TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Thrive West Central here in Terre Haute is continuing to make progress on initiatives in the Wabash Valley.

You may remember back in August, they began the process of making a cohesive Regional Trails System across our six-county area here in the Wabash Valley. Executive Director of Thrive West Central Ryan Keller shared the immense progress they’ve made to make this initiative closer to becoming a reality.

Keller says Thrive West Central recently signed a contract with a developer to get the ball rolling on a regional trails app. Regional Trails groups in all counties here in the Wabash Valley are working together to upload maps of trails.

Keller says his vision is to have a cohesive Regional Trails Group up and going as a stand-alone 501(c)(3) organization within three years. Eventually, Thrive West Central will identify trail-friendly businesses to generate economic development in our area.

Keller says being able to get out and enjoy our local trails and our regional trails system will be a huge benefit to all citizens.

“It’s a huge bump in quality of life,” Keller said, “Being able to go out there and plugin with your mobile phone to see where there’s new trails or trails that have yet to be developed is really exciting.”

This past summer, Thrive West Central did some research studying trail systems established in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. They discovered property values increased along trails, community engagement was improved, and businesses along trails experienced an uptick in traffic. Keller says that’s why they are making this project a focus in 2021 here in the Wabash Valley.

Keller says he and his organization really want to make this trail system great and even possibly have it connect throughout our region.

Thrive West Central has been able to form a Regional Trails Council. All Regional Trails Groups in the county are involved and are collaborating with each other to get accurate, detailed maps of all the trails that have been developed.

Now they are onto the second stage which is verifying this data and building a web app on their website as well as an interactive app in the Apple App Store.

Keller says they are pushing trail development and trail advocacy which feeds into the community and economic development.

”When you have users that are engaged in a trail network, the possibilities are endless for how you can start to represent trail friendly businesses and start to generate commerce based off your trail users in the region,” Keller concluded.

Keller says Thrive West Central is right on track with its progress, and the goal is to have the app available and marketable in early to mid-May of 2021.