Creating Connections – PCRD drives growth in Indiana and beyond
Part two of the two-part series on the Purdue Center for Regional Development.
The Purdue Center for Regional Development, headquartered in the Schowe House on the West Lafayette campus, is focused daily on the execution of its stated mission: Pioneering new ideas and strategies that contribute to regional collaboration, innovation and prosperity. Center director, Lionel J. "Bo" Beaulieu, says strong partnerships and collaborative efforts are key to the center’s success.
Collaborative initiatives include:
- The launch of the Hometown Collaboration Initiative to advanced community development efforts in 19 rural Indiana communities. The effort is in partnership with the Indiana Office of Community Affairs (OCRA) and Ball State University.
- Technical assistance and training programs for the two communities selected for OCRA's regional Stellar Communities Program in the northeast and central regions of the state.
- The development of the Rural Indiana Stats online data site that showcases important data on population, industry, occupations, housing, local government finances, broadband and agriculture commodities.
- The production of regional data products and evaluation metrics to support the work of the Wabash Heartland Innovation Network, a $40 million initiative funded by the Lilly Endowment. The goal is to transform Indiana into a magnet for high tech jobs and talent.
- The launch of a strategy that explores value-added agriculture as part of an area's economic development plan. Other partners include the Indiana Department of Agriculture, Indiana Economic Development Association, the Indiana Farm Bureau and the Indian Soybean Alliance.
- Ongoing support to the 15 regions that are part of the Indiana Association of Regional Councils. This work aligns with PCRD’s designation as the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s University Center in partnership with Ball State University. PCRD’s assistance has helped several regions develop and secure federal approval of their five-year comprehensive economic development strategy plans as well as garner millions of dollars in federal funds to support their plans.
- Partnering with the Military Family Research Center at Purdue to develop a comprehensive online data site intended to support communities with military families, providing insight into demographics, education, housing, employment and behavioral health.
- The recent securement of a federal grant, in partnership with Purdue’s Department of Civil Engineering, that will focus on building regional capacity for economic resilience planning in two regions in the state. Both regions have counties that are designated as economically distressed.
One of the latest projects PCRD is undertaking is the Rural Opportunity Zones Initiative. PCRD and other partners will provide the resources and expertise to attract private sector investments for distressed areas in four dozen rural areas identified by census tracts in Indiana. This is a partnership with USDA Rural Development, OCRA, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and other state agencies and organizations.
PCRD’s Multi-State Activities
While a significant portion of PCRD’s portfolio of activities is focused on Indiana, its reach extends well beyond the boundaries of the state. For example, PCRD recently was selected by USDA Rural Development as one of four organizations nationally to help implement the USDA Innovation Center's Rural Economic Development Innovation Initiative.
In partnership with the University of Kentucky, the PCRD-Kentucky effort is providing training and technical assistance to teams from eight sites in the north central and southern regions of the nation. These sites were selected through a national competitive process, and one Indiana site—Spencer County—is among the places selected to be part of this national program.
The PCRD-Kentucky team will help the sites identify the major economic development goals along one or more of the following program priorities: e-connectivity, rural workforce, economic development, quality of life and technological innovation. Next, the team will guide each of the eight communities in the development of an economic blueprint that offers a roadmap on ways to launch the mix of strategies associated with the priorities they have embraced. Finally, the PCRD-Kentucky team will lend its expertise in identifying viable sources to fund the local plans as well as track the progress of each team over time.
Yet another effort provided the resources to develop and launch one of the most comprehensive online data portals focusing on poverty in the 12 north central states. It was funded by funded by USDA’s Economic Research Service, the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development (located at Michigan State University)
"All of this phenomenal data and programs are resources that would make exceptional tools for Purdue faculty and staff to incorporate into their research and classroom activities," Beaulieu said.
For more information please visit the Engagement website.