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Purdue to Help Two Indiana Regions Bolster Economic Development

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN – A team of Purdue University community and regional development professionals will play a key role in advancing the efforts of two groups of Indiana counties that are working to develop regional approaches to growing businesses and creating jobs.

The two regions, consisting of 11 counties in the state, have been selected by U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development to be part of Stronger Economies Together, a nationwide program undertaken in partnership with the regional rural development centers and the nation's land-grant university system.

The two Indiana regions are joining 19 other regional economic-development groups in 11 states selected on a competitive basis to be part of the yearlong program. The expected outcomes include developing a stronger regional mindset, increasing regional collaboration, discovering the region's current and emerging assets, and developing and implementing a high-quality regional economic development plan that aligns with the region's strengths.

Professional staff from the Purdue Center for Regional Development and Purdue Extension will coordinate and provide leadership to the State Resource Team, composed of individuals from state and federal agencies, universities and other organizations with expertise in community and regional development.

"The SET program is another example of how Purdue is strengthening collaborations to build vibrant economies across Indiana," says Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension. "It is a prime example of how Purdue expertise can assist communities as they build stronger economies to enhance the quality of life in Indiana."

USDA Rural Development started SET in 2010 to help rural communities and counties work together in strengthening and sustaining the economic vitality of the nation's rural areas. To date, regions involved have secured over $120 million in grants and low-interest loans to support implementation of their regional plans.

The two SET regions in Indiana are:

  • Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission region, consisting of Crawford, Dubois, Orange, Perry, Pike and Spencer counties in southern Indiana.
  • Regional Economic Development District of Eastern Indiana, consisting of Fayette, Randolph, Rush, Union and Wayne counties.

The program provides each region with a step-by-step process for designing and implementing a practical and viable regional economic development plan, one based on a careful analysis of the region's current and emerging industry clusters, its population and labor force features, and the insights and priorities of local residents.

"Stronger Economies Together represents an exciting opportunity for these regions to work together with Purdue University and the SET State Resource Team to fortify their regional ties and identify their pathway to a vibrant future," says Michael Wilcox, assistant program leader of community development for Purdue Extension.