Public Policy Institute Targets 'Growing Divide'

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Tuesday's symposium drew more than 150 community leaders from throughout the state. Tuesday's symposium drew more than 150 community leaders from throughout the state.
INDIANAPOLIS -

The Indiana University Public Policy Institute in Indianapolis marked its 25th anniversary by trying to address one of Indiana's emerging issues. The research organization held a symposium Tuesday to discuss what Director Tom Guevara calls the "growing divide" between urban and rural communities. He says, while the institute does a good job providing analysis, research and recommendations to communities, Tuesday's event was about how to take the next step and implement those ideas.

In interviews with Inside INdiana Business, Guevara and Bedford Mayor Shawna Girgis discussed how the institute can help smaller communities can bridge the gap.

Bedford has been a recent success story in small community growth. In 2013, the city earned a Stellar Community designation from the state and was named Community of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) announced a $127 million investment in its Bedford Casting Operations plant, resulting in more than 120 new jobs.

Girgis says the key to success in the city has been building a good team and "never being satisfied with where you are." Much of the focus of the city now is in downtown revitalization, which she says is important because it is the "front door" of the community for businesses and residents.

The Public Policy Institute was founded in 1992 to be a neutral voice, helping political and community leaders understand the long-term effects of policy decisions. Since then, the institute has grown to serve nearly 200 government, nonprofit and private sector organizations. The center says its research aims to "significantly improve" state and local policy.

Tuesday's symposium drew more than 150 community leaders from throughout the state and featured several big-name presenters. They included retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard and IUPUI Chancellor Nasser Paydar.

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