Public Policy Institute
March 23, 2016
Thriving Communities, Thriving State identifies components of critical success: education, investment, talent
INDIANAPOLIS – Looking ahead at what can be done to help Indiana communities succeed now and over the next 10 years, the Indiana University Public Policy Institute today shared results from its Thriving Communities, Thriving State project. More than 200 local, regional and state leaders joined the Institute at the Indiana State Museum to discuss ways to maximize Indiana’s potential.
“The adage, ‘If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there,’ should not be good enough for building Indiana's future,” said Randall T. Shepard, former Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court. “Thoughtful leaders from many different walks of life have committed an entire year to examine how we might build thriving communities for the years ahead.”
Shepard and Kathy Davis, former Indiana lieutenant governor, serve as co-chairs for the project that launched in 2014 as an effort to evaluate what’s needed to uplift and sustain urban, mid-sized and rural/small town communities, with solutions tailored to their unique challenges.
A nonpartisan 53-person commission – comprised of statewide leaders representing public, private and nonprofit sectors – recommend investments in education and infrastructure and making policy changes that remove political, geographical or technological obstacles to success. The commission work began in early 2015.
“Communities in Indiana differ in many ways,” said Mark Lawrance, Institute director. “Our hope is people around the state will look at the recommendations in Thriving Communities, Thriving State as a to-do list, to see what might work for their community.”
In the report Recommendations for a Thriving Indiana, all three commissions prioritized important topics for Indiana to focus on during the next decade, including: Education/workforce preparation; Leadership and engagement; and Quality of life and quality of place.
Here is a sample of the Thriving commissions’ recommendations:
Rural/small town communities
“Rural and small communities need assistance from state and industry leaders to ensure our residents have access to twenty-first century infrastructure like adequate broadband, water, sewer as well as roads and bridges,” said Bedford, Ind., Mayor Shawna Girgis, who serves as co-chair of the project’s rural/small town commission. “It is imperative that rural communities acknowledge our population is declining and identify ways to combat this trend including nurturing our main streets, making workforce training available close to home to support local business and industry, and embracing our growing immigrant populations.”
To stimulate discussions about Thriving Communities, Thriving State recommendations, the Institute will soon kick off a statewide tour to inform civic and economic development groups to develop state, regional and local collaborations and engage support.
“I have been enlightened and inspired by the Indiana community leaders who serve on the rural, mid-sized and urban commissions. They show us what it takes –from the ground up --for Indiana communities and the state to succeed,” said Davis, principal of Davis Design Group, who served as the state’s first female lieutenant governor (2003 to 2005). “Next, we must orchestrate the grand collaboration that directs resources and support to their initiatives.”
Thriving Communities, Thriving State is the second project of the Institute’s Policy Choices for Indiana’s Future Initiative, which encourages discussions about issues that matter to Indiana, specifically focusing on quality-of-life issues.