USDA Rural Development Acting Indiana State Director Alan Krapf has announced Indiana has been approved to deliver Phase VII of the Stronger Economies Together (SET) Initiative. This effort is targeted to strengthen the capacity of communities/counties in rural America to work together to develop and implement an economic development blueprint that strategically builds on the current and emerging economic strengths of their region.
“SET regions continue to strengthen partnerships, build common visions and increase communities’ capacity for leveraging planning and implementation funding, including accessing financial resources under Farm Bill 6025. So far, SET regions across the nation have been able to leverage close to $600 million to support the implementation of their plans,” Krapf said.
Stronger Economies Together (SET) is an initiative launched by USDA Rural Development in collaboration with the four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) and their land-grant university partners, including the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD). The initiative is now in place in more than 94 regions in 28 states.
Indiana has had three recent SET designations: The North Central Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NCIRPC) comprised of Cass, Clinton, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton counties; The Eastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission made up of Fayette, Randolph, Rush, Union, and Wayne counties; and Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission consisting of Crawford, Dubois, Orange, Perry, Pike, and Spencer counties.
The SET program includes step-by-step coaching on design and implementation of practical, viable regional economic development blueprints and action plans. It also offers technical support, facilitation and in-depth data analysis that helps regions focus energies and resources on areas in which they hold comparative economic advantages. In partnership with Indiana USDA RD representatives, staff from the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) and Purdue Extension provide most of the SET activities.
According to Dr. Bo Beaulieu, director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development, “SET provides a pathway for local residents and organizational leaders to give of their time and talents to build and put into action a high quality regional plan. It is the local buy-in that has made SET such a success in regions across the U.S.” Information will be forthcoming instructing communities on how to potentially be designated as a SET region.