OCRA: Federal Funds to Boost 'Rural Heartbeats'

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OCRA Executive Director Jodi Golden says broadband is "vital" to future rural growth. OCRA Executive Director Jodi Golden says broadband is "vital" to future rural growth.

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs says its $30 million share of $54 million in federal funding recently awarded to the state will be put toward local projects involving infrastructure, downtown revitalization and economic development. Executive Director Jodi Golden says most of the organization's programming supports efforts designed to attract or retain talent in rural areas and boost regionalism in underserved parts of all 92 counties. OCRA's portion of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding increased $3 million, compared to last year.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Golden described the kinds of initiatives that will be boosted as a result of the funding. "We want to encourage collaboration and comprehensive planning and really focusing on turning rural Indiana into places where people want to live, work and play," she said. Much of the funding issued to local communities, Golden adds, will be used for "critical" infrastructure needs and enhancing downtown areas, which she calls "the heartbeats" of rural places.

OCRA and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority's action plan submitted to HUD for the funding included priorities such as expanding and preserving affordable housing opportunities, reducing homelessness and increasing housing stability for Hoosiers with special needs, addressing unmet community development needs and promoting activities that enhance local economic development efforts.

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