By Jessica Norton
In the 1920s General Motors invested themselves in the Southside of Muncie. Along with them and other auto part makers, the Southside of Muncie continued to boom throughout the 50s and 60s. Increased automation and globalism of industrial giants began to come into the picture, resulting in lost jobs that had no promise of returning. By the early 2000s, the factories that once brought the Southside to life had closed and locations that once provided to the community now provided nothing but empty lots and rusting fences.
“It has been estimated that Indiana has lost over 20,000 automotive manufacturing jobs since 1999” estimated the Indiana Business Journal.
Throughout this, the Southside became a symbol of lost hope and abandonment. In 2015 however, a group was created to bring life back into the once booming town, the 8twelve Coalition. The 8twelve Coalition is a neighborhood revitalization coalition. They saw the potential in the town and came in with the goal of restoring the sense of community. They organized clean-up events, made a community garden and planted new trees, organized community groups and meetings, and so much more.
As the impact of the 8twelve Coalition expanded so did companies in the area. One of these being the Rosebud Coffee House which was flipped from an old bank into a thriving coffee shop for the community. Not only does it serve as a meeting point for those in South Central Muncie, but it encourages people from outside of town to make that trip over the railroad tracks and immerse themselves in the ever-growing community.
“I’ve made a dent, the Common Market Place down the road is making an impact, slowly but surely we are. I think there’s just a lot more opportunity and a lot more things that we can and will do.” Said Tiara Hicks, the owner of Rosebud Coffee House when speaking about her impact.
More recently the Muncie mayor’s office announced the purchase of a property they plan to use to construct three new buildings on. This construction will include a grocery store, a mix of restaurants, and several other businesses. Along with the new buildings they plan to put in a playground area with lots of trees to transform the area into a green and lively meeting area.
For years the sense of community has been growing in the Southside, but the progress is getting lost in the setback of its past. Muncie South Central should no longer be viewed as a once successful town but as a story of hope restored. No longer should empty lots and abandoned factories be an image of the town, rather it should be an image of a phoenix rising from the ashes with its community rising with it.