State, Universities Collaborate

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A pilot program involving the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Purdue University and Ball State University aims to improve quality of life in small communities. The Hometown Collaboration Initiative is designed to expand local leadership pipelines, develop economic strategies and pursue additional "placemaking" activities. October 29, 2014

News Release

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue Extension and the Purdue University Center for Regional Development are among partners in a new state initiative designed to improve the economies and quality of life of small communities.

The Hometown Collaboration Initiative, a program of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, is accepting applications from communities of no more than 25,000 in population to participate in the pilot program. Applications are due Dec. 1. Communities selected will be announced in January.

"Indiana is dotted with a sizable number of small cities and towns, and HCI is the right program to help strengthen the long-term vitality of these communities," said Lionel J. "Bo" Beaulieu, director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development and Extension community development program leader.

The initiative is designed to energize communities in one of three ways:

-Grow the community's leadership "pipeline." Leadership training will be given to people interested in taking a more active role in community improvement efforts.

-Embrace development strategies that link to the economic strengths of a community. This can consist of business retention and expansion, building an entrepreneurial-friendly community, and a youth entrepreneurship program.

-Pursue "placemaking" activities that add to the community's built and natural resources. This can include arts, culture and historic preservation, improving downtown or other public spaces, and building a local foods system.

The program has three phases: In the foundation phase, communities will assess their local assets and learn core collaborative strategies. Then they will select from one of three "building blocks" - leadership, economy or placemaking - to learn more about community development. Last, during the capstone phase, communities will develop a project with the opportunity to implement the skills they learned.

Also collaborating are Ball State University's Building Better Communities program and College of Architecture and Planning (Urban Design).

More information on the Hometown Collaboration Initiative, including how to apply, is available on the Purdue University Center for Regional Development website at https://www.pcrd.purdue.edu.

Source: Purdue University