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Jerry Conover
Indiana Business Research Center

Sam Cordes
Purdue Center for Regional Development

George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, June 11, 2007

Joint IU-Purdue study on rural economic development receives national award

June 11, 2007

EDITORS: A copy of the clusters report is available at and

BLOOMINGTON and WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A federally funded study focusing on how rural areas can stimulate economic development, done collaboratively by Indiana and Purdue universities, has received a national award from the Council for Community and Economic Research.

Research by the Indiana Business Research Center at IU's Kelley School of Business, the Purdue Center for Regional Development and the Strategic Development Group Inc. led to a report, "Unlocking Rural Competitiveness: The Role of Regional Clusters."

The partnership developed new tools, including a national database, analytical procedures and insights for local leaders and governments throughout the nation to assess their economic competitiveness and create developmental strategies.

IBRC Director Jerry Conover accepted the award at the Council for Community and Economic Research's annual conference in Denver on Friday (June 8). It was one of five awards given to "Projects That Support Business Development Activity."

"The U.S. Economic Development Administration is now promoting the study as a model for use in rural regions throughout the nation. We're delighted that the Council for Community and Economic Research has distinguished our work with this prestigious award," Conover said.

Sam Cordes

Sam Cordes

"Rural areas have long lagged behind their urban counterparts in economic performance," added Sam Cordes, Purdue Center for Regional Development co-director. "This study used existing data to create new analytic tools and provide new insights to help rural leaders throughout the nation understand their regions' economic strengths and weaknesses. We then tested these tools and new approaches in rural southern Indiana, engaging local stakeholders to develop a strategic plan for the region's future. The insights from the study will also be helpful to state and national policymakers as they consider new approaches to enhance rural economic development."

The researchers created the Index of Relative Rurality, a numerical value calculated for each of the nation's 3,108 counties. This value shows where each county falls on a rural-urban continuum and helps to identify locations where rural and metro areas connect.

The study was funded by a $425,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. also supported the project, as did Purdue and Indiana universities.