Category Archives: Uncategorized

Local Foods and Agriculture Tourism

 Brown County Greenhouse and Solarium Proposal

FYI – This project was proposed in support of Brown County 2020: A Vision for the Future, Community Report, April 2009: “…. promote art and culture; balance sustainable development with responsible stewardship; spur economic growth that respects our natural environment; provide enrichment opportunities; encourage healthy lifestyles; and promote activities that develop and support thriving, engaged residents and families. (Brown County 2020 – A Vision for the Future)


Agritourism or agrotourism, as it is defined most broadly, involves any agriculturally-based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch. More at Wikipedia

Local Foods

At a time when climate change is already affecting destinations and scientific research is under attack in many parts of the world, millions of travelers — lured by their love of local foods — help make agritourism a factor that tourism boards can’t ignore.

Comprehensive Plan for Brown County and Town of Nashville

The current County Comprehensive Plan approved in 2012.

Comprehensive Plan For Brown County and The Town of Nashville – developed in 1993 but not approved by the commissioners at the time.


Tourist Homes and Affordable Housing?

At the Area Plan Commission (APC) meeting on July 24, 2018, “Jane Gore, an Area Plan Commission member, asked the board to consider setting some sort of limits on the number of tourist homes allowed in the county out of concern that they’re crowding long-term residents out of affordable options.”  Ref: Brown County Democrat, Facebook post.

This concern is unlikely to be warranted. The advantages of the current policy for tourist homes outweigh the disadvantages of limiting their number.

Interesting that the benefits of the Maple Leaf and Big Woods/Hard Truth Hills developments include the expectation for bringing in more year-round tourism.  Why restrict opportunities for people to serve this market?

The  advantages of tourist homes:
  • They generate at least double the revenue in property taxes than what a full-time resident would pay
  • They collect the 5% innkeepers tax
  • They provide tourists with options
  • They provide competition to the hotels and other tourist home rentals
  • They generate revenue for owners – many of which reside in the county and want the freedom to determine their investment options without unnecessary government interference
  • They are generally the higher end homes – not in the “affordable” category for purchase or monthly rent
The disadvantages of tourist homes:
  •  Marginally less inventory of homes available for purchase by full or part-time residents.
  • Limiting the supply of tourist homes will likely increase the value of the existing tourist homes
What is affordable?

In 2014, 52.51% of  Brown County residents filing state tax returns identified income at $30,000 or less.  With an income of $30K, estimates that an individual with an acceptable credit rating, with no monthly debt payment and no down payment, could afford a $131,200 home.  A monthly debt payment of $200.00 would reduce the affordable amount to $102,500.

The planning office keeps the inventory of tourist homes. There are approximately 300 tourist homes in the county which is less than 5% of the total number of the 8,400 residences.  (1)

Tourist homes in the county that have been listed for sale are generally at the higher end of the price scale e.g., not in the “affordable” category for purchase or rent.   A review of the sales and assessed value of the tourist homes would provide another source of information regarding affordability.

(1) For the county income survey that was conducted last year, the number of total residences surveyed was 8,400.  This included apartments.

Disclaimer:  I do not own nor am I interested in owning a tourist home. I am not associated with the tourism industry. 


Andy Rogers: Vision for Brown County and Nashville

Brown County loses Andy Rogers.  Andy Rogers passed away July 19, 2018. His vision for accommodating tourism and not destroying the culture and “soul” of the county is being seriously challenged by the few that may want to exploit more tourism focused development.

“People say, ‘Well, we can’t change.’ But we can change and still retain some of the flavor of Brown County. We need people to live here. I’m in the tourist business but we don’t want to turn this town over to the tourists. You can go to Gatlinburg if you want to see what happens to a town that turns it all over to business. It’s not a town anymore—it’s a shopping center. We need people here. This town needs to be alive.” 

“We don’t need to be slick and highly commercial. We need to be more country. Country is what we sell…. We need to maintain that. Once you destroy that, it won’t come back.”

Brown County Memories – Andy Rogers Recalls, by Bill Weaver, Our Brown County

  • “He stands at the center of Nashville’s dogged attempt to satisfy a tourist industry while retaining its soul—the thing that people have lost in their own communities, the reason they come to visit in the first place. 
  •  So you can imagine my surprise when I discover that Rogers was not born in Brown County.”
A Competing Vision for Tourism

 Will this new vision retain and attract residents or will it result in Brown County being considered a fun place to visit but not to live?    

My Guest Column in the Democrat: A study of tourism and economic sustainability  Provides context regarding tourism-related jobs and wages. Note: The proponents of the government-owned Maple Leaf music venue project claimed that Maple Leaf “….  could be what it takes to turn things around economically for Brown County.”  This article was written to offer another perspective.  The county is funded primarily by income and property tax.  

The Maple Leaf Effect? – “The little town that never sleeps?”

GUEST OPINION: ‘Coming together is a beginning  The Maple Leaf Effect? and Working toward ‘a more perfect union’   Excerpts – Future scenarios can include the following:

Best case is that MLPAC exceeds all expectations. A worse case is that the venue does not meet expectations, requiring a decision as to the disposition of an underperforming venue.  

1. Status quo plus. The additional increase in year-round tourism from Big Woods/Hard Truth Hills (destination distillery) and the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (MLPAC) are added to the tourism portfolio with some noticeable impacts on the culture of the county. This will include more events to promote entertainment, craft beer, wine and spirits tourism and additional traffic congestion. An increase in revenue from income and property taxes, the primary source of revenue for the county, might offset the increase in county infrastructure-related costs.

2. Transformative. The expectations for the MLPAC were identified as leading to an increase in year-round tourism that would result in an economic turnaround, more jobs, hotel(s) and restaurants. These changes could possibly include the transition of Snyder Farm as an extension of Salt Creek Plaza. The requirement to fill a 2,000-seat venue will likely lead to offering any entertainment option and attracting any demographic that will sell tickets and attract visitors. Shops in Nashville could transition to bars or other dining and entertainment options that will encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more money. Other areas along the State Road 46 corridor could transition to tourist-related businesses. A casino might fit into this scenario. Entertainment, craft beer, wine and spirits tourism become a major part of the Brown County “brand.” The cumulative effect of the changes may lead to Brown County being considered a nice place to visit but not to live.

3. Collaborative planning. Community conversations can help identify the best acceptable alternatives for tourism, community and economic development options. To quote Henry Ford, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Conversations can lead to strategies, strategies to plans, and good plans lead to results where everyone benefits — or at least accepts that a given initiative is beneficial overall. The collaborative approach can lead to the county being recognized as a “community of excellence,” which attracts more residents, businesses and families. An increase in families helps mitigate the decline in school enrollments and prevents school closures and consolidations.

Economic Development Strategic Plan – Links to References

Michael Hicks, an economist at Ball State University concluded that  “today’s economic development policy ought simply to focus on making life better for residents who have chosen to remain.”   In his article “Most Indiana counties should stop pursuing economic growth“, he reinforces that “80 or more Indiana counties are in absolute or relative decline.”

The challenge for Brown County is to assess the opportunities as well as challenges within the county and region to identify the best approaches for the county.

Technical requirements for the economic development strategic planning grant.

A “plan” is a written account of the intended future course of action (scheme) aimed at achieving the specific goal (s) or objective (s) within a specific timeframe. It explains in detail what needs to be done, when, how, and by whom.

Summary – Taxes and Trends – Presented to the Joint Meeting of Council and Commissions, June 4, 2018.   June 4 DLZ Commissioner and Council Joint Meeting

Brown County Comprehensive Plan 2012 and the Draft of the 1993 Plan

Stats Indiana Brown County Population Projections

South Central Indiana –  United Way 2-1-1 Resource Database.

County Financial Decision Support Model – IU Support

Brown County Hometown Collaborative Initiative (HCI). Sponsored by Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Ball State, and Purdue University.

Choose Brown County – Redevelopment Commission (RDC) Website

Massachusets Institute of Technology – LIVING WAGE Calculation for Brown County, Indiana 

Indiana Economic Development Corporation – Average and Project Wage – 2006 – 2017.

 Regional Opportunity Initiative (ROI). The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) is to support regional development opportunities in the 11 counties of Southwest Central Indiana.

Affordable Homes

More Facts