By Keith Robinson
Community and economic development issues facing rural Indiana are examined in a Purdue University magazine online series that also shows how some communities are seizing opportunities to help improve the quality of life there.
The series, by the agricultural communication department, began this week. It will run each Tuesday for seven weeks on the website of Agricultures, a department magazine.
"Anyone who has driven through a small town in Indiana has seen empty storefronts. They often are signs of shrinking employment, people leaving for opportunities in larger cities and just an overall struggling local economy," said Olivia Maddox, editor of Agricultures. "Despite the challenges, some rural communities are making strides to stimulate their economies and improve amenities for residents.
"This series provides insight into the economic and social issues affecting rural Indiana and highlights the public-private partnerships that are helping to turn the tide."
"Giving New Life to Rural Indiana" draws on the research and expertise of Purdue Agriculture faculty and Extension educators, as well others involved in rural leadership. Defining rural Indiana, supporting entrepreneurs, boosting budgets through grants and overcoming poverty are among the topics addressed.
Featured is an in-depth interview with Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension, who explains what is needed for rural America to prosper again. Before coming to Purdue in May 2013, Henderson was a Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City vice president who led the bank's agricultural and rural outreach and research programs.
Henderson says the future for small towns and surrounding areas likely will be found in innovation.
"The mindset has to change. They must think like entrepreneurs and take risks," Henderson says in one of the articles. "They must become the pioneers of the 21st century."