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While the Indiana Bond Bank continues to reveal information about FFC2020’s participating units of government, featured challenges, venue, giveaways, etc.  you can reserve a ticket for you as an individual or a group if you plan on coming with a team!


We live to foster an Indiana where the limit of Hoosier possibility is unbound from geography.  Where a statewide fabric of thriving local communities lay the foundation for all Hoosiers to achieve lives of personal fulfillment.


At the Flipping Finance Challenge , we convene Hoosiers with diverse skills and subject matter expertise in one collaborative environment to create solutions to complex local challenges.


Indiana Bond Bank’s Flipping Finance Challenge, a public-finance focused innovation summit.


City of Bloomington

Bloomington lies in the heart of the rolling hills of southern Indiana, minutes from the state’s largest lake and the Hoosier National Forest. We are home to Indiana University, a Tier 1 research institution with several of the nation’s top-ranked graduate and undergraduate programs, as well as Big Ten athletics. The city’s cultural vitality is fueled by one of the nation’s premier music conservatories, a renowned world music festival, several professional theater companies, and a thriving array of restaurants and breweries. Bloomington also features a Gold Medal-winning system of parks and trails. Bloomington’s thriving education, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and technology sectors make it an ideal place for business. We are also home to one of the nation’s largest Fortune 500 companies, a nationally ranked business school, and 40 minutes from the country’s third-largest naval installation.

Jay County

Jay County has much of which to be proud. It boasts a regional learning center, John Jay Center for Learning, that offers college courses from a variety of area colleges, an arts center, Arts Place, that many large communities would envy and one of, if not the, best county fairgrounds in that state that draws tens of thousands of visitors each year.  But we also have our share of challenges stemming from our geographical isolation, the shift to big-box stores from local small business, the struggle to attract new development, declining opportunities for our young residents and lack of enough funding to bring to fruition the type of projects that could help spur growth and improve the quality of life in our communities. We have a community of leaders who embrace the challenges and are ready to take them on and look forward to implementing innovative ideas that will make an impact in Jay!

Starke County

Starke County is an uncrowded rural northwestern Indiana landscape of small towns, agriculture, and oak woodlands. Bass Lake, Koontz Lake, and several smaller lakes are longtime tourist draws, but are now experiencing an increase in the number of year-round residents. Key challenges include below average educational attainment coupled with below average per capita incomes and an aging housing stock. With a population of just under 23,000, residents of Starke County enjoy the authentic rural environment, low cost of living, and safe, friendly, small-town atmosphere. Its location is attractive for visitors looking for a peaceful, natural setting, and its situation between larger metropolitan areas also offers upside potential and opportunity for investment.  The Constellation of Starke County, is a group of community leaders including government officials and social service providers working towards the betterment of Starke County.

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In order to be successful in developing a solution to one of the challenges below, attendees are strongly encouraged to choose a specific challenge within the tracks below well ahead of the 18 hour design-sprint and use the resources provided to obtain as much background and research information as possible.


Beyond Pews & Pints: Facilitating Community Connections Through Arts and Entertainment

A common criticism heard in Starke County is that if you want to gather with friends, you have one of two choices – a church or a bar.  While facetious, it does highlight a need for expanded options for its residents.  SC challenges FFC innovators generally to provide a unique solutions(s) that promote increased activities and programs related to entertainment.


Strong solutions related to this challenge will incorporate the arts in some capacity.  Starke County believes that arts and entertainment can create strong quality of place, and has experienced on a micro level with the development of its amphitheater.  Arts and entertainment can include parks, recreation, traditional art, music, dining or recreation.



Relevant Resources and Data Sets: Coming Soon

The Kids Are Alright: Youth Leadership Opportunities

Jay County will soon be undergoing a consolidation of schools in the area. It was 45 years ago that Jay County consolidated into one school system with elementary schools scattered throughout the county, two middle schools (East Jay and West Jay), and one high school. Now, the corporation is reducing to one middle school that will be located within the high school property.  This likely will reduce opportunities for youth to participate in school-sponsored activities, especially those with fixed roster sizes.  For example, if the county currently has 2 eleven-person school basketball teams (22 roster spots total, plus 2-4 team manager roles), a consolidated school will have 1 eleven person basketball team (11 roster spots total, plus 1-2 team manager roles). This impact could be felt across sports, clubs, leadership groups, etc. Many youth are exposed to teamwork, collaboration and leadership through participation in school-sponsored activities.


Jay County challenges FFC innovators with providing a unique solution(s) or programs that will maintain and/or increase the ability of youth to gain teamwork and leadership skills post-school consolidation.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:

Jay School Corporation Plan

The Death of Downtown: The City of Portland, IN

The downtown areas of Portland in Jay County are comprised of dilapidated buildings and no longer serve as the hub of activity that it once did.  Despite several small businesses and other assets, the downtown areas are more commonly seen as dying areas as opposed to areas of vibrant energy. 

Jay County challenges FFC innovators with providing a unique solution(s) that will strike life back into the downtown areas of Jay County, using Portland or another downtown as a focus.

Relevant Resources and Data Sets: Downtown Revitalization Plans for Portland, Stellar Designation Regional Development Plan


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:

Downtown Revitalization Plans for Portland

Stellar Designation Regional Development Plan

There's Nothing to Eat in this House: Food Delivery in Starke County

Starke County lacks food delivery options with only 2-3 restaurants offering delivery service and lack of larger delivery-service providers like Uber Eats and Door Dash.  This has multiple impacts:


  • On quality of life – for the homebound, mobility-challenged or senior populations


  • On quality of place – for Starke County residents just looking for restaurant meal without leaving the house


  • On visitability – as Uber Eats, etc. become more prevalent, having those options may become a basic expectation for tourists or visitors. The lack of food options and delivery service may keep someone from coming back in the future.


SC challenges FFC innovators to provide a unique solution to increasing food delivery options.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: Coming Soon

Beating the Geographic Isolation Blues: How might Jay County Stand Out in an Area of Activity

Geography informs any area’s ability to thrive, and Jay County’s relative geographic isolation proves a hindrance.  For example, Jay County:


  • Has no interstate access within its borders
      • Indeed, approx. 30 minute drive from county border to interstate (20 miles to I-69 and 25 miles to I-70; distances will be farther from Jay County’s population centers)


  • Borders another state (Ohio to the east)


  • Outside the geographic donut of larger urban centers (Fort Wayne, Muncie)


As a result of geography, Jay County struggles to retain some of its most valuable resources in the form of human capital, employers, small businesses, education, etc.


Jay County challenges FFC innovators to provide a unique solution(s) that will help mitigate the constant outflow of resource migration from the area to donut cities and towns.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:

Jay! Region Stellar Designation Regional Development Plan


Top of the Chore List: Collect Fall leaves more effectively and efficiently

Annually from November through early January, the City of Bloomington operates one vacuum-equipped truck to collect residential leaves. While the truck is efficient in collecting leaves, the vacuum requires that residents rake their leaves in piles curbside on their property. Between the time a resident rakes their leaves and the time the vacuum truck comes around, leaves may blow out into the street or there may be a freezing rain that flattens and hardens the leaves so that they cannot be sucked up into the truck.


Because the City only operates one vacuum-equipped vehicle, they plan routes and advertise them, but the pick-up date for a resident’s location might not coincide with when their leaves actually fell or when they had time to rake them up. The City identifies 4 immediate negative consequences from this:


  1. the leaf truck goes round and round doing and re-doing the same streets for months
  2. Under the current system, the one leaf truck costs ~ $100,000/year to operate
  3. Despite the schedule and re-work, the Department ofPublic Works receives many calls from residents frustrated about the timing of the pick-up
  4. Operating the leaf truck in a continuous manner contributes to greenhouse gas emissions as it is a diesel vehicle.

The City of Bloomington challenges FFC Innovators to create a solution that will revolutionize the leaf collection process.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: Coming Soon

Hole Foods: Lack of Grocery Stores in Starke County

Access to a grocery store is a challenge in Starke County.  In surveys, the western half of Starke County has indicated this is the #1 issue in the county.


The North Judson grocery store closed recently, a main factor being poor management and a poorly kept store whose appearance did not inspire confidence in consumers that they were buying safe, quality food.  Starke County believes that a clean, well-managed grocery would be supported by the community.  New grocers may not choose Starke County because the data purports to show an abundance of grocery alternatives within the county.  However, these are dollar stores or convenience marts, which carry limited variety and quality fresh food options.  Currently Starke County residents must shop at Wal-Mart or Aldi’s outside of the county.


SC challenges FFC innovators to provide a unique solution to increase their access to fresh food options.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: 

Resource Page

Night Shift Nightmare: Using existing resources to meet busiest night/weekend hours downtown for sanitation, public works, and parking enforcement

The After-hours Ambassador has noticed specific times of days and days of the week when the City could benefit from additional City employees working those hours to help keep the City looking clean. When the City does not look clean, there is an accompanying sense that it is less safe. What resources are needed? Does the City already have those resources and they are not aligned to the work we have or do we need more resources?

The City of Bloomington challenges FFC Innovators with creating a unique solution to maximize it efficiencies regarding human capital and duty fulfillment.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: Coming Soon

Our Value is the Sum of Our Values: City of Bloomington

The City of Bloomington has stated values of Safety, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Sustainability, Innovation, and Beauty.  Intentionally incorporating these values across all aspects of the City is an undertaking.


On a micro-level, the City asks for solutions around how they might ensure that they are honoring these values in every service or interaction?  For example, when someone goes to apply for a parking permit? Or when City employees are repairing a broken water main? Or inspecting a rental property? Or patrolling the downtown?


On a macro-level, the City asks for solutions around how they might hire and equip their workforce around these values.  How would City Employees need to be different in order to keep all of these values front-of-mind all the time? What new skills would they need? What tools would they need? There isn’t any guidance about how someone in any position would honor all of these values. For example, if the City hires you as a landscaper, what are the behaviors that would indicate that you are considering the safety of residents in your position? or innovation? or diversity and equity?


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: 

Mayoral Priority List

Safe, Civil, Just City Program



Beauty & Quality of Place


An Apple a Day: Declining Health Trends in Jay County

Jay County suffers from well-above state and national averages in smoking, obesity, and various negative health indicators.  With a large population of individuals who work in manufacturing, healthy lifestyles can be difficult due to work demands. 

Jay County challenges FFC innovators with providing a unique solution(s) that will assist in reversing declining health trends and increasing quality of life for Jay County residents.  A strong solution will be informed by new analysis of the health datasets provided to generate new insights or trends.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: Coming Soon

An [Energy] Star is Born: Incentivizing owners of rental properties (either residential or commercial) to make their properties more efficient in how they use energy, use water, and generate waste for landfilling

The City of Bloomington is committed to reducing our impact on the environment. They are taking action on the areas that are fully within their control (city-owned buildings, parks, public land, etc.), and offering incentives for owners of private property (like bulk pricing for installing solar roof panels and offering grants for stormwater projects). 

However, one area where Bloomington has seen traditional incentives fail is where the owner and user of the property are different people; e.g., in rental property situations, whether residential or commercial. For example, traditional incentives to motivate installation of rooftop solar panels do not work in the owner-renter situation because the owner incurs a significant upfront installation expense but does not see the ongoing energy savings because the owner is not responsible for paying the energy bills.  Their renters enjoy the benefits of reduced energy bills. Similarly, there is no traditional incentive for an owner to encourage renters to recycle or compost when the renter’s choice does not impact the owner.

The City of Bloomington believes there are many innovative solutions that might be employed.  One idea developed was a concept called RentRocket in 2014.  RentRocket was a rental marketing solution for property owners to list properties that had been upgraded. This beta system was outsourced in 2017 to Jacqui Bauer upon her departure from the City. She is beta-testing it in Columbia, Missouri.

The City of Bloomington challenges FFC Innovators to create other solutions to this challenge.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:

Rental Properties in the City
Information about Rent Rocket
– NOTE: this is not a City of Bloomington app – it is owned by Jacqui Bauer-
Active Beta 


A Place to Call Home: Housing Development in Starke County

Starke County has identified several key areas of housing for which they are seeking unique solutions:


 A:  Workforce Housing


B:  Senior Housing


 C: Owner-Occupied Rehabilitation


There are several opportunities that exist to help mitigate these housing challenges including vacant land space in North Judson, duplexes in Hamlet, rent-to-own and scattered-site project units in Knox. 


SC challenges FFC innovators with providing unique challenges and insights to help shape the future of housing stock in Starke County.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: 

Resource Page

The Developer's Dilemma: Housing Development, New Construction, Widespread Development and Multi-Generational Availability

Jay County has recognized several challenges and opportunities relating to their existing housing stock and population needs.  The following challenges have been specifically identified for innovators at the Flipping Finance Challenge:

  • Housing Development:
    • Housing development in Jay County is limited to small patches, lacking widespread development throughout the region despite a vast need to attract new residents to Jay County
    • Jay County is challenged with attracting at-market housing developers to their region to create new construction
  • Multi-Generational Housing: Jay County is seeking solutions to an aging demographic in current housing stock and the need to provide housing for younger generations. Jay County would ideally like to transition this aging population into senior housing which would in turn free up the current housing stock to younger families as starter homes.  Alternatively, Jay County would like to explore housing solutions for an aging demographic that is not quite suited for Senior Housing either.

Jay County challenges FFC innovators to provide a unique solution(s) that will help shape the future housing stock of Jay County.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:

City of Portland & Jay County Housing Study, Housing Plans from Jay!

Region Stellar Designation Regional Development Plan

Mind the Gap: Close the economic and physical gaps preventing affordable, good quality early childhood education

In Monroe County, according to the 2018 ELAC dashboard, nearly 4,600 children need High Quality Care. The average tuition countywide for high quality early childhood education is $9,883, which represents 61% of a family’s income that is at 100% of the poverty level. High Quality early childhood education leads to better transition to Kindergarten, higher 3rd grade achievement levels, which in turn lead to better high school graduation rates and post-graduation income levels. In the meantime, by placing children in early childhood education programs, parents can enter the workforce sooner thereby increasing family income levels. The challenge continues to be easily accessible capacity at an affordable cost for families. Centers are burdened with high educator turnover given limited salary capacity and other expense limitations. 


The City of Bloomington challenges FFC Innovators with creating a unique solution to their gaps in affordable and high quality childhood education.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: 

Size, location, and enrollment for known early childhood centers, 0-5 population estimates, and Kindegarten and 3rd Grade achievement data.





(Bloomington is in Monroe County and their dashboard starts on page 108)

Empowerment Through Work: Growing an "occasional worker" program for people experiencing homelessness

Bloomington, as with many communities with large higher education institutions is a social service hub, which has led to increasing numbers of individuals experiencing homelessness over time. As a way to empower these individuals through rewarding work experiences, we would like to create a dynamic program to provide employment opportunities that pair with the other aspects of case work. A pilot program was attempted in which Centerstone clients work for parks and recreation.  Barriers include: Funding, oversight, program development, paying on timeframes outside of normal City compensation procedures.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: Coming Soon



Getting from Here to There, Literally

Transportation has become a major concern for Starke County and in some way touches every Starke County challenge presented at the Flipping Finance Challenge.  As a positive, Starke County has an existing public transportation system operating from Monday-Friday 8AM-4PM and by appointment.  These services are intended to assist Starke County residents with transportation for basic necessities such as medical, senior care and grocery.   The downside to the system are the restricted hours, which make it impractical as transportation to most jobs.  Expansion of the system (in any capacity – more hours, people served and/or routes) will cost money. 

Beyond this, there is no public or private means of transportation that is easily accessible.  Rideshare technology such as Uber and Lyft are not currently offering rides in the area which limits residents’ ability to participate in recreational activities offered on weekends and evenings. 

Starke County challenges FFC innovators with creating a unique transportation solution(s).

Relevant Resources and Data Sets: 

Resource Page

Need a Ride? Building out Bloomington's alternative transportation system to reflect the recommendations of the Transportation Plan

The City of Bloomington challenges FFC Innovators with creating a unique solution or process improvement to their current transportation system efficiencies.

Relevant Resources and Data Sets:  

Transportation Plan and Obligated Projects

No Vacancy Signs: Lack of Lodging in Starke County

A major challenge facing Starke County attracting visitors to the area is the lack of lodging.  Most families and individuals who do travel through Starke County often stay in lodging outside the county.  This has a ripple impact to the small business owners of restaurants in Starke County – even if the visitor’s ultimate destination is in Starke County, they are highly likely to take their meals at the chain restaurants in and around the out-of-county hotel property, rather than drive into Starke to eat at a local restaurant.  This has multiple major economic impacts on Starke, including:


  • Loss of hotel tax revenue to another county


  • Loss of food and beverage tax revenue


  • Loss of exposure of locally owned small businesses in Starke


  • Disincentive for entrepreneurs to start food-based business in Starke


There is one major hotel in Knox, IN which is currently rated as a 2 Star hotel on Google.   Airbnb selections are also very limited (estimated at 2 county-wide) and fill up quickly. 


As Starke County looks to attract visitors to their county, they challenge FFC innovators with a unique solution to their lodging problems.  Solutions which have a tie into the dining out component will be looked at favorably.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:  

Resource Page


Another Tool in the Toolbox: – Calculating TIF District ROI

Jay County challenges FFC innovators to create a solution which will allow local government officials to calculate for themselves the ROI projected from investing in projects in TIF Districts in the area.  Currently Jay County officials rely on paid outside consultants to provide this exact calculation, which adds time, process steps and costs in the informed decision making process.  Existing self-service tax calculators available online are not sophisticated enough to factor in the TIF.  Jay County uses ROI calculations to  let Redevelopment Commissions make educated decisions on investing in projects in the TIF areas.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:  Coming Soon

Tricks of the Trade: Creating Public Finance Best Practices

Jay County seeks ‘best practices’ or strategies for how best to deploy or layer its resources and public incentives (such as EDIT and TIF) to best attract investment into the area.  For example, what generates the highest return on investment, what are best practice investments for communities such as housing, quality of place initiatives, land, industrial parks, etc.  Jay County challenges FFC innovators with providing a unique solution(s) to help them better deploy these resources.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:  Coming Soon

On the Waterfront – Building for Growth

Bass Lake & Koontz Lake, “census designated places” within Starke County, are both popular vacation spots for affluent out-of-towners, many of whom spend entire seasons on their lakefront properties.  As a generation of these visitors approaches retirement age, some are choosing to make Bass Lake or Koontz Lake their full-time residence.  This influx of yearlong residents amplifies the need for more basic amenities within Bass and Koontz Lake.  Innovators are challenged to develop solutions for these growing waterfront communities.  In particular, Koontz Lake seeks solutions for a new community building and a new fire building.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets: Coming Soon


A Blank Canvas: Painting the Picture of an Opportunity Zone in Starke County

Census Tract 18149953700 in Starke County is a blank canvas for investment with all the right tools to paint having a wide-open piece of land and TIF, EDIT, OZ incentives all available in the area.  This is the largest Opportunity Zone in northern Indiana.  However, it is located in an agricultural area.  With over 8,700 designated Opportunity Zones nationwide all competing for the same investors, Starke County is looking to stand out.


Starke County challenges FFC innovators to create an Opportunity Zone-related solution.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:  



Business is Booming? OZ's in Bloomington

Monroe County has four areas designated as Opportunity Zones, of which three fall within city limits and represent the most likely investment opportunities in the city. A cottage industry of opportunity zone investments has sprung up nationally, seeking investment opportunities in zones and Bloomington has had some success attracting investments. The challenge is that Opportunity Zones were designed to drive job-creation, but are currently being leveraged simply to improve the returns on developments with limited community and/or job benefit (e.g., student housing developments). The City seeks an improved approach to attract investments with greater community benefit.  Sor far, City/Bloomington Economic Development Corporation/County have collaborated to highlight Opportunity Zones to local investors via presentations and other marketing efforts; other cities have developed more formal investment prospectus, models that could be employed by Monroe County/City of Bloomington.  Barriers: Municipalities have limited visibility into Opportunity Zone funds/investments; there is no central depository for investment opportunities in the zones.


Where are the opportunity zones in Bloomington?


– Downtown/Trades District/Convention Center


 – Current IU Health Hospital Site


 – Switchyard Park and vicinity


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:  




 List of Businesses or Lack of Businesses in Each Zone 

When Opportunity Knocks: A Statewide Initiative

The State of Indiana is well ahead of much of the rest of the nation in promoting its Opportunity Zones at a state level.  The creation of the Opportunity Investment Consortium of Indiana has played a major role in connecting investors to communities in Indiana, but much is still to be done and a small window of time exists to do so.


The Opportunity Investment Consortium challenges FFC Innovators with creating unique solutions to the barriers faced with attracting Opportunity Zone investment to Indiana communities.  Innovators should build off of the work done by the consortium in order to increase marketing efforts, improve efficiency, or identify gaps that exist between opportunity zones and investors.


Relevant Resources and Data Sets:  





Prize Announcements Coming Soon…

Prizes are made possible as a result of the generous donations of the Flipping Finance Challenge 2020 sponsors.  Employees, representatives, or family thereof of the Indiana Bond Bank (“IBB”), the Office of the State Treasurer of Indiana (“TOS”), agencies which report to the TOS, the City of Bloomington, Jay County, Stark County (and all participating units of government there under), Merchants Affordable Housing Corporation or FFC sponsoring entities are not eligible for prizes.  All other participants are responsible for complying with any rules or regulations to which they are subject, including 42 IAC 1-5 et seq. for participants who are state employees.  IBB will not be involved in the determination of winning teams or prize eligibility. It is the sole responsibility of each participant to determine their prize eligibility and communicate any non-eligibility to IBB prior to Noon Saturday February 29.  Eligibility for a prize will not influence the judges’ decision of winning teams.  Winning teams containing non-eligible participants will receive the full prize award to be divided among eligible participants.”