#ThriveIN to study what makes Indiana communities succeed

January 23, 2015

Indiana's future is taking center stage with a new Indiana University Public Policy Institute effort. The Institute today unveiled its Thriving Communities, Thriving State project, a two-year effort to study what makes Indiana communities succeed. 

#ThriveIN @IUPublicPolicy

Using a place-based approach, the project will take a look at issues affecting rural, mid-sized, and urban communities, each with its own commission. Recommendations arising from the project will be shared with state legislators, community leaders and other policymakers to guide their planning and decisions.

“This is the first initiative to examine Indiana’s future potential from an urban, mid-sized and rural/small town perspective,” said Mark Lawrance, director of the Institute. “The leaders serving on each commission represent many different backgrounds from around the state and share a common passion to improve Indiana from a best practice and policy viewpoint.”

Commission members will identify how current policies help or hinder communities, where policy gaps exist, and what changes are needed to better support communities.

Kathy Davis (former Indiana Lieutenant Governor) and Randall T. Shepard (former Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court) will guide these conversations as the project’s co-chairs.

“To achieve economic prosperity and a high quality of life in Indiana, we must analyze our progress in areas such as education, income, health, and the environment,” said Davis. “Often, our progress, our priorities and our needs are different depending on where we live. Tailoring our policies to address those differences makes Indiana stronger.”

Framing the changing demographics and economic realities of Indiana within a place-based context will provide a clearer view for policymakers, while preserving those places and aspects that make Indiana unique.

“The choices we make always intertwine,” said Shepard. “Our aspiration is to alter the choices that Indiana makes about its future.”

After gathering information, commissioners will convene expert panels to discuss topics such as workforce development and education, local government finance, health, and infrastructure.

IU professor James Madison shared his historical perspective during the launch event. His piece “Drifting Toward Two Indianas?” was recently featured in BizVoice magazine.

“I hope to offer some historical perspective (on) the challenge facing Hoosiers, especially the possibility that we are moving toward two Indianas, one rather well off, one not so well off,” said Madison.

John Marron, senior policy analyst at the Institute, and Zach Mulholland, research analyst, have led research for the project's first publication, Indiana In Perspective, which presents summary data based on the three community types.

Indiana In Perspective Report (PDF)                                 

Indiana In Perspective Feature

“From a regional perspective, most of Indiana is going to continue to experience population growth over the next 30 years. Those communities offering the highest quality of life within a region are likely to receive a greater share of that growth," said Marron.

In February, the Institute is taking its project statewide. Public policy conversations will be held in Columbus, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, and Indianapolis.

This is the second project of the Institute’s Policy Choices Initiative, which encourages conversations about issues that matter to Indiana, specifically zoning in on areas that are connected to our state’s future.

Thriving Communities, Thriving State, a Legacy Project of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, will lead to a gubernatorial forum in 2016.

For more information about Thriving Communities, Thriving State please visit www.policyinstitute.iu.edu/thriving.