Indiana Spurs Small Towns to Set a Course

[imgbelt img=indiana-state-flag320.jpg]The Stellar Communities program in Indiana awards grants to small towns that can envision a healthy future and have solid plans for getting there.


[imgcontainer left] [img:indiana-state-flag320.jpg] The stars in Indiana’ state flag stand for liberty and enlightenment, a theme picked up in the state’s Stellar Communities program.

The torch in Indiana’s state flag sparkles with stars representing the far-reaching effects of liberty and enlightenment. And now the state has Stellar Communities, four of them in fact.

In a time of so much anti-government rhetoric, a forward thinking state government wants to help Indiana’s smaller cities develop and implement their comprehensive plans. The program builds state agency cooperation to provide targeted funding and technical assistance, while giving local communities as much flexibility as possible to meet their priorities. The program attracts communities wanting to do better. Sounds like a Stellar Idea.

Indiana’s Office of Community and Regional Affairs (OCRA) manages the program. Administratively, OCRA is located in the office of Republican Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman. In an unusual policy move, the legislature made OCRA part of the lieutenant governor’s legal responsibilities.

Stellar Communities is more than a rural development program. It is part of statewide and regional economic development that builds community capacity through a competitive process. It also is about building state development capacity because it stimulates agency collaboration to serve community needs. Besides OCRA, participating agencies include the Housing and Community Development Authority, the Department of Transportation, and the State Revolving Fund.