There is an air of optimism surrounding the Evansville community that Julie Welch says she has never before experienced.
It’s this kind of positive thinking that made it easy for Welch, who has lived in Evansville since 1992, to accept the executive director position of Keep Evansville Beautiful, 209 Main St., last October.
“I have never noticed such an optimistic viewpoint in the city,” says Welch. “We are optimistic because so many things are happening with the (Indiana University) School of Medicine, the hotel, the Ford Center, all the great things that are happening on Main Street. People just have this spring in their step. They are really looking forward to the future. We have so many organizations that are working together to improve Evansville just for the betterment of the city.”
Welch has worked in nonprofits since 2004 and made the move to Keep Evansville Beautiful after former executive director Marcia Dowell left the post in late July.
“It was an opportunity to run my own organization and I really believe in this mission,” says Welch. “We are catalysts for economic development, and it is so important to have aesthetically pleasing places in your city.”
As the Evansville Airport Gateway Project culminates and the sculpture by Bob Zasadny is being fabricated in Louisville, Welch has several goals she wishes to accomplish next. She wants to continue along U.S. Highway 41 and 57 and work on clearing out dead trees and trash, do new planting, and clean up brush. Welch hopes to work on an anti-littering campaign this summer to address the problem at its source.
“So much industry when they are thinking about coming here — they fly into that airport and drive down 41,” says Welch. “It is crucial that area makes a good impression.”
Inspired by a vibrancy movement in Indianapolis, Welch wants to add painted murals in Downtown Evansville and along U.S. Highway 41. KEB is working with the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, and, if the organization receives funding for the murals, it is a project that could be completed by the fall of this year. She also is working to get approvals from the Indiana Department of Transportation for welcome signs on five entryways into the city. KEB also recently redesigned its website and revamped its social media accounts.
On April 18, KEB will hold its first-ever gala with the proceeds helping pay for operating expenses. The Path to Beauty Gala will be held at 5 p.m. at Tropicana Evansville. Tickets are $100.
For more information about Keep Evansville Beautiful, call 812-425-4461 or visit keepevansvillebeautiful.org.