New and Notable

Thriving Communities, Thriving State

By Jaclyn Lansbery

IU’s Public Policy Institute’s new project examines Indiana communities ... From big metropolitan areas to small rural towns, Indiana is home to hundreds of them—each with its own challenges.

Randall T. Shepard and Kathy Davis

Shaping policies to help Hoosiers from all the disparate areas of the state is no small feat. That’s why the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, a research arm within SPEA, is taking a close look at Indiana communities to give recommendations to state and local decision-makers.

Over a two-year period, Thriving Communities, Thriving State will study the issues affecting rural, mid-sized and urban communities, each with its own commission made up of community leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors (including three city mayors and a farmer from Windfall, Indiana). The project ends on December 16, 2016, the state’s 200th birthday.

Kathy Davis, former Indiana lieutenant governor, and Randall T. Shepard, former chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, are serving as the project’s co-chairs. Institute senior policy analysts Drew Klacik, John Marron, and Jamie Palmer are commission coordinators.

After holding public meetings in Gary, Evansville, Indianapolis, Columbus, and Fort Wayne, the commissions will convene expert panels and discuss the topics facing Indiana communities: workforce development, education, local government finance, health, and infrastructure.

“This is the first initiative to examine Indiana’s future from the perspectives of urban, mid-sized, and rural/ small town communities,” says Mark Lawrance, director of the Institute. “Residents and community leaders have told us what matters most to them, whether it’s better broadband access, improving transportation options, or better connecting skilled workforce with job opportunities. In working with our commissioners, we will compile what we’ve heard and what our research tells us into recommendations to help Indiana communities succeed.”

Often, our progress, our priorities, and our needs are different depending on where we live. Tailoring our policies to address those differences makes Indiana stonger.

— Kathy Davis