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Jerry Conover
Indiana Business Research Center

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Purdue Center for Regional Development

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IU University Communications

Judith Barra Austin
Purdue News Service

Last modified: Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Economic development project by centers at IU and Purdue receives national honor

June 23, 2010

BLOOMINGTON AND WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A joint economic development project led by research centers at Indiana and Purdue universities has been honored with the 2010 Award of Excellence by the Council for Community and Economic Research.

The project, "Crossing the Next Regional Frontier: Information and Analytics Linking Regional Competitiveness to Investment in a Knowledge-Based Economy," was carried out by the Indiana Business Research Center in IU's Kelley School of Business and the Purdue Center for Regional Development, in collaboration with the Rural Policy Research Institute, Strategic Development Group Inc. and other private-sector partners.

It was supported through a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, with additional support provided by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

Starting in 2005, the two research centers began work on new tools and information for local leaders and governments throughout the nation to strategically advance rural economic development.

Initially, their joint efforts led to a report "Unlocking Rural Competitiveness: The Role of Regional Clusters" in April 2007. The findings were presented at federally sponsored economic development symposia across the country.

Subsequent efforts included creating:

  • A database for regional planners and economic development professionals that helps them examine the kinds of jobs that are in increasing demand and match them with the mix of industries found in their local regions.
  • A new innovation index based on county-level data that focuses on available human resources, productivity and employment, economic dynamics and economic well-being.
  • An investment tool designed to help regions allocate their investments across a portfolio of different kinds of opportunities to minimize investment risk while exploiting the region's competitive advantages.

The centers also jointly produced a guide to help economic development practitioners understand these tools and how they can be applied to help inform strategic decisions being made at the local and regional levels. The guide was developed, in part, by feedback provided to the research team after testing the tools in rural areas in Indiana, Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Mississippi and Wisconsin.

A report of the study's findings, together with data, decision-support tools, and other project outputs, is available at