ELKHART -

The Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce is working to attract up to 500 new professionals and their families to live and work in the City With A Heart.

One of the goals is to cut the number of people who commute to the city instead of living there.

Noelle Maure stopped by to pick up lunch at the Old Style Deli downtown. She lives in Mishawaka and commutes to work in Elkhart County.

"I live out of town, and I work here in Elkhart," said Maure. "I find where I live is more family-oriented and a safer neighborhood to live in."

She is exactly the kind of person the local Chamber of Commerce is trying to get to consider moving, live and work in the area. The goal is to improve overall positive growth in the city.

"You can help the people who need the services and the increase in education, and we are doing that," said Chamber Executive Director Kyle Hannon. "But one thing we probably haven't done as much is attract the people here who are professionals, the educated professionals, to live in this community."

Right now, Hannon says the idea is just in the discussion stage and adds he plans to get in touch with a lot of people, groups and organizations to get their input to develop a game plan for this.

"We will pull into the related groups to say how do we work on livability in Elkhart that's going on right now," Hannon said.

Downtown merchants like Danny Reynolds at Stephenson's is all for the move to bring more professionals here.

"I think what we need is more retail, more dining, just more activity in the heart of the city, and it can only expand from there, and I think we are going to have to offer incentives," said Reynolds. "We need to all get together and do this."

The Chamber is working with the Convention and Visitor's Bureau, the Elkhart County Community Foundation, and the County Economic Development Corporation for its plan.