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NORTH JUDSON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The state will Friday kick off a celebration of trails with a ribbon cutting in Starke County. Governor Eric Holcomb declared 2021-2022 as “Indiana’s Year of the Trails” following a resolution passed by the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy says the designation “creates an opportunity to bring trails users, business owners, nonprofits, local and state elected officials, and other stakeholders together to experience Hoosier trails and share the value of walking, biking and other non-motorized infrastructure for all Indiana residents and visitors.”

Officials will kick off the year-long celebration by cutting the ribbon on the Erie Trail Extension along the Great American Rail-Trail in North Judson. Other events are set to take place this weekend in Muncie, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis.

“Indiana’s Year of the Trails creates a meaningful opportunity to foster community around the trail network that’s growing across the state,” said Brian Housh, Midwest policy manager for the RTC and a lead organizer behind the initiative. “It gives us a chance to celebrate iconic projects like the Great American Rail-Trail, which will connect hundreds of miles of trail in Indiana and will bring significant economic, health, recreational, safety and other quality of life benefits to Hoosiers.”

Housh says the celebration sets up for efforts during the next legislative session as trail stakeholders will be looking to secure permanent funding for the governor’s $150 million Next Level Trails program, which was established in 2018. The RTC says permanent funding would amount to $10 million annually.

NORTH JUDSON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – The Starke County Economic Development Foundation will Saturday host the inaugural North Judson 2020 Business Pitch Competition. The organization says the competition’s ultimate goal is for the winning entry to establish a new or expanded business in North Judson.

The foundation says the winning entry will receive a total of $10,000 in prizes, with $5,000 in cash upon winning, and an additional $5,000 conditioned on launching or growing a business within the North Judson area.

Entries can include a startup business less than three years old, and the foundation says companies that are older than three years may also apply if they are developing growth through a new product, service line, expansion or implementation of a new strategic plan together with a clear growth plan.

“This competition falls in line with what we were formed to do, that being the creation and assistance to new and expanding companies in the Starke County area,” said Larry Wickert, SCEDF executive director. “With the help of the Indiana Small Business Development Center, where we serve as their Business Advisors for Starke County, we think that this event is very exciting and could very well lead to a new or expanding business taking up residence in Starke County and specifically in North Judson.”

The pitch competition will take place at 7 p.m. at the North Judson Town Hall.