Quality of life
The refrain in Kauffman’s consistent community homily is easy to detect: Quality of life. Kauffman believes that bike trails, public parks and a vibrant downtown are all key elements that will bring people to Goshen and keep them here to raise families.
“I would hope 20 years from now we have things developed like Fidler’s Park,” Kauffman said. “… I would hope that we would have a community center 20 years from now. … I would hope we have (newly developed) housing along the millrace. … I would hope we will have broken the cycle of people not valuing an education.”
Up until recently, the immigration into Goshen was from other states, not other countries, Kauffman explained. Those were the days when the coal mining jobs were drying up in the Appalachian states and the mobile home industry was flourishing in Elkhart County.
“People could swing a hammer or get a job at Goshen Rubber or Western Rubber without a high school education and make a living,” Kauffman explained. “Those jobs even paid enough that one parent could work and support the family. But many of those people didn’t have an education, therefore didn’t value it for their kids. Now those jobs aren’t here. So, how are we going to break that cycle?
“You can’t work a job in Goshen anymore unless you have a high school education.”
Kauffman hopes the Horizon Education Initiative will be an efficient bridge from high school to higher education to the workplace in the future. The objective of the initiative is integrate those three aspects to better serve students and the community. Again, better education, Kauffman says, leads to better quality of life.
Keep on pushing
Kauffman also envisions in the future a restructured downtown. With the potential rerouting of U.S. 33 through a “northern connector” route and by moving Ind. 15 to Third Street (reconnecting with Main Street at Madison), he sees the downtown stretch of Main Street being reduced from four to two lanes, angled (possibly reversed) parking and more outdoor dining options.
Goshen has come a long way with its quality of life, Kauffman said. But as far as it has come, he believes now is a critical time in determining where it is going.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a younger generation stepping up at the right time,” Kauffman said. “We have to keep stretching ourselves. We’re not going to move forward by saying, ‘No,’ all the time.”