VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The USDA visited Vincennes on Monday to meet with local leaders about ways to improve the city’s quality of life.

The USDA offers a program that funds the renovation and restoration of historic districts into more housing for the community.

“We met with the USDA a few months ago as they were going around the state talking about their programs and how they can help local communities make their communities better,” Tim Smith, President of the Vincennes Redevelopment Commission, said.

Multiple city leaders including the Mayor’s Office, the City Engineer, and Vincennes University met with the USDA to brainstorm ideas of what areas to tackle first.

It was followed by a tour to show potential areas that would be renovated or restored.

“We can work with all the state and federal agencies, bring them to the table to kind of create a package that will support all of their needs. I think housing is going to be the biggest issue here, it’s what I’ve heard the most. Really creating that sense of place is going to be the first step because that’s going to kind of lead into all the other projects,” Ric Frataccia, Community Development Specialist for the USDA, said.

Smith said housing will be a key component in attracting new people and keeping the current residents they already have.

“To attract and retain talent and to make our community the place people want to be and we believe that working together, the city and all of the organizations, we can make that happen. We think the USDA helping to coordinate that, helping to bring some funding to the table will all make that a workable plan,” Smith said.

Terry Goodin with the USDA said not to think about Vincennes now, but think about it 10 years from now.

He said one of the main takeaways is if a community won’t invest in itself, why would investors?

“Ultimately we think there’s multiple organizations working with the city to make Vincennes the best it can be and the USDA has taken a lot of notes, they’re going out and looking at a few more things on their own and then we hope to have a report back soon about what our next steps might be,” Smith said.

Smith said as far as housing is concerned, hopefully, the next steps are to look at the downtown area and start rehabbing the houses in that area.