The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD), in partnership with Purdue’s Extension Community Development Program and the Indiana USDA Rural Development, have spearheaded the implementation of the Stronger Economies Together (SET) program in two Indiana Regions, including the newly established Eastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (EIRPC) district. SET was launched in the EIRPC district in October 2015 with two civic engagement forums, which engaged more than 130 residents from Fayette, Randolph, Rush and Wayne Counties. Over the next nine months, the Purdue/USDA RD team provided the EIRPC with in-depth data on the region and guided them through a process of studying the data, assessing the major assets and challenges in the region, and formulating a high quality economic development plan. The plan gives central attention to the region’s major economic drivers along with the mix of strategies that will help retain and add strength to the area’s key industries and businesses.
Included in the regional plan are six major goals. They include efforts to maintain and strengthen the region’s three critical industry clusters: advanced materials, agriculture and health care sectors; to expand the pipeline of talent needed to support these important industries; and to put in place the elements that are needed to preserve and enhance the region’s overall quality of life. According to Dr. Bo Beaulieu, director of the PCRD and a member of the national SET coordinating team, “The EIRPC is putting in place a positive and visionary economic blueprint for the region, one that will help the five-county region make smart investments on how best to advance the long-term vitality of the area.”