As Stellar Communities transitions to a regional focus,the Indianapolis-based Sagamore Institute has released its annual report detailing the impact of the statewide, strategic investment program. The analysis shows the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs and its partners have contributed $100 million toward participating cities and towns since the 2011 launch, which has led to more than $135 million in additional funding from community partners. OCRA Executive Director Jodi Golden says the collaborations stoked by Stellar are key to its success.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Golden added the new regional focus will broaden investment and partnership opportunities. "We’ll have a larger area to participate and draw from and I think the impact will be more transformational when you’re working together with your neighbors and your counties and your other communities," she said.
Golden says Stellar Communities has even benefited towns and cities that applied, but were not selected as winners in the past. "Even the finalist communities who have not been designated," she said, "I hear everyday stories about them continuing to implement projects that were part of their investment plan as they move forward."
The state’s portion of the program’s funding was given to communities through grants, low-interest loans and tax credits. The Sagamore Institute study also provides recommendations, including engaging communities regionally through alliances and partnerships with individuals, agencies and organizations and helping with post-designation training "to ensure they have the skills needed to manage their projects and plan for the future." OCRA says previously-announced collaborations with Ball State University — on project alignment and data analytics during the planning stages — and Purdue University — on long-term sustainability and project implementation efforts after selection — will help.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, OCRA Executive Director Jodi Golden added the new regional focus will broaden investment and partnership opportunities.