Indianapolis, In. — Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch announced the Stellar Communities Designation Program, through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Development, will now combine communities, creating a region that will emphasize collaboration between neighboring towns, cities and counties“We are all a part of this great state, and through the regional Stellar Community program, we must continue to improve our neighborhoods and encourage a partnership between communities,” Crouch said. “Through OCRA’s Stellar Program, we are supporting initiatives to attract, retain and develop talent in and around Indiana, and to do this our communities must work together.”Under Crouch’s leadership, the Stellar Community program is a multi-agency partnership designed to recognize smaller communities that have identified plans for community and economic development projects and what the next steps are through key partnerships. From 2011 to 16, the state allocated $89.4 million to designated communities, which were combined with $108.6 million community partner contributions.“Stellar communities will no longer be applying as individual communities. We are now looking for applicants to be collaborating with their neighbors on creating a regional development plan” said Jodi Golden, Executive Director of OCRA. “Each submission should discuss how they believe each community uniquely works together to create one complementary region.”Eligible communities include local units of government that are a county, city or an incorporated town not currently considered a HUD recognized entitlement community. Only communities that participate in the state Community Development Block Grant program are eligible.Crouch said that although any eligible community can apply, regional mentorship with past StellarDesignees and Finalists is highly encouraged.All participating communities must commit at least four years to the project. This collaborative effort will bring together mentorships and partnerships to advance comprehensive solutions to regional and local challenges throughout rural Indiana.Golden believes the philosophy of great partnerships also applies to the program execution. She said they have great partners and without their help, OCRA could not have a successful program. These partnerships include the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and a number of other state agencies that help provide a complete state approach. Additionally, participation from Ball State University and Purdue University will complement the new regional perspective.For more information about the program look here.
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