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The Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) and Ball State University’s (BSU) Indiana Communities Institute serve as an EDA University Center for the state of Indiana. Their joint partnership concentrates on five areas of capacity building support to the state: (1) build and sustain vibrant local and regional collaborations; (2) expand the suite of innovative data tools for advancing local and regional planning; (3) strengthen the connection of entrepreneurs and small businesses to their region’s innovation clusters; (4) enhance global market opportunities for second stage manufacturing firms embedded in distressed areas of the state; and (5) explore the talent needs of regional innovation clusters and enhance the talent pipeline of Indiana Association of Regional Council (IARC) member organizations. Collectively, these five focus areas will position the joint University Center to offer a cohesive set of programs to key stakeholders in Indiana.
In FY 2018, EDA awarded $160,000 in Technical Assistance funds to PCRD and BSU. The funds supported the University Center in providing technical assistance, conducting applied research, and building capacity. This project, aptly titled Harnessing the Economic Assets of Indiana Regions and Communities: Strengthening Information, Collaboration, and Innovation, brings together two universities to provide on-going support to Economic Development District organizations, economic development professionals, and other community stakeholders.
Under this award, PCRD and BSU undertook an exhaustive review of zip codes to provide detailed analysis and information about poverty in the North Central Region (Midwest), including the state of Indiana. By homogenizing zip code information over decades, they created a tool for researchers to use with new initiatives, such as Opportunity Zones.