BRAXTON MOORE ’19 | NEWS EDITOR • The city of Crawfordsville is planning substantial changes that will positively impact the face of the community. Along with the proposed addition of several small parks, public gathering spots, and recreational running/biking trails that will break ground this spring, the city also plans to transforming the PNC Bank building on the corner of Washington and Main into a community workspace that will bring together a conglomeration of city offices, creative initiatives, and Wabash resources (including an experimental theater and the CIBE). The project has been named ‘Fusion 54’, and aims to provide a creative and collaborative workspace for professional and creative endeavors. Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton ’00 spoke about the direction that the project hopes to follow, and how Fusion 54 will open new opportunities not only for young entrepreneurs in the Crawfordsville area, but for the greater Wabash community as well.
“We bought the PNC building to use as a Stellar Grant project,” Barton said. “That building will become ‘Fusion 54’, which is a highly innovative project that no one else is doing. That building will contain all of our growth entities under one roof. The bank will remain a part of the first floor, with the section of the building facing highway 231 becoming a visitors bureau. The entire second floor will turn into a co-working space … and will serve as a place to start up new businesses. The third floor will belong to Wabash College – with the CIBE, WDPD, and an experimental theater for the creative arts all working out of that space. Finally, the city’s Chamber of Commerce, Crawfordsville Main Street, the Leadership Academy, and the Volunteer Center will occupy the entirety of fourth floor.”
Barton also expressed enthusiasm for the workplace dynamic he foresees Fusion 54 generating in the community. He placed great emphasis on providing a space where entrepreneurships and community start-ups can spring from.
“When we put all of these factions in the same building, we start to create all of this synergy,” Barton said. “When we have all of these young entrepreneurs coming to Crawfordsville, along with Wabash entrepreneurs, combined with
the traditional Economic Development people just down the hall … they all start to make these connections, and these ideas can really take off.” Director of Strategic Communications Jim Amidon ’87 also contributed to the conversation surrounding the new Fusion 54 building from a Wabash standpoint, and recognized it as a workspace where many different facets of the Wabash community can come together to work on project development and various entrepreneurial endeavors.
“The idea, articulated in our Stellar Communities Proposal, was to bring together all of the city’s growth entities with Wabash’s CIBE and develop a cool co-working space for entrepreneurs,” Amidon said. “The original idea was for Wabash’s CIBE and WDPD to share the third floor – to create a truly flexible working space that would allow for large presentations for groups of about 100 and still allow for small group discussions. We continue to work with a title of ‘Performance Collaborative’, but in the building it will be – effectively – a small box theater … separate from the other flex space on the floor. The creative entrepreneurs had not been considered in Fusion 54, so this really rounds it out.”
Amidon, like Barton, also verbalized an optimistic outlook for the space that Wabash will be provided in the redesigned building, and talked about the possibilities that such a project opens up for members of the Wabash community – specifically focusing on young professionals.
“It’s an exciting idea to imagine a conglomeration of Wabash students interacting and working together on various projects,” Amidon said. “Whether it be CIBE projects, WDPD facilitations, or creating new plays, music, and poetry – they will all be one floor above the main co-working space and just below the city’s economic growth entities. It’s an incredibly cool way to link our College and the city of Crawfordsville together.”