USDA and OCRA Expand Partnership

USDA and OCRA Expand Partnership

The fact that small businesses are regarded as the “backbone” of the U.S. economy is an almost universally accepted notion by legislators throughout the country. There are several facts about Indiana that support that idea, namely that over 99 percent of companies here are small businesses, almost half of all employees work for small firms, and last year small companies created more than 33,000 jobs (U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy). Given their importance to our communities, the state has recently made moves to expand a key partnership designed to support small business growth.

Fairmount Main Street members join Lt. Governor Crouch for the IMPACT announcement. Fairmount is one the first communities participating in the IMPACT pilot program. (Photo from Indiana OCRA)

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) and the Indiana U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development announced that nine Main Street organizations will be a part of a new program focused on retaining existing businesses and expanding new business and entrepreneurial opportunities. OCRA was awarded a $100,000 grant from the USDA Rural Development to create the IMPACT Main Street program.

“Collaboration between local, state, and federal partners allows for these communities to create a stronger environment in their core commercial centers,” Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch said. “Rural Indiana is the next great economic frontier, and we will continue to do what we can to support them and help them thrive.”

“OCRA is a great partner and when it comes to their connections to the needs of rural communities around local community economic development, they are the go-to agency in Indiana for help with funding and technical assistance,” said Michael Dora, Indiana USDA state director. “Therefore, it was only natural that USDA and OCRA expand on their partnership. We are proud to leverage our assets and extend to OCRA a grant to be used to promote rural prosperity.”

The nine Main Street organizations selected for this pilot are in the following communities: Seymour, Fairmount, Tell City, Tipton, Rockville, Sullivan, Dillsboro, Elwood, and LaPorte. They will be working with Ball State University’s Indiana Communities Institute to design and implement business investment strategies for their downtowns.

“This type of innovative programming directly impacts local business development and spurs further private investment,” said Jodi Golden, OCRA executive director. “IMPACT Main Street will help us continue our mission to catalyze economic growth in our rural communities.”

Once the pilot is complete, OCRA intends to extend the program to other Main Street organizations.

Successful Beginnings

The new IMPACT Main Street program is only the latest in a more than 30-year history of OCRA’s endeavors to strengthen small business. The Indiana Main Street Program (IMS) has been developing communities in Indiana since 1985 and it’s been under OCRA’s management since 2005. In that time, it’s hit some impressive benchmarks, including:

  • 4,289 net new & expanded businesses
  • 27,811 net full and part time jobs
  • $3.3 billion in private reinvestment
  • $1.8 billion in public reinvestment

Today, the program is serving 133 different communities in 81 different counties throughout the state.

Fits Well with Other Initiatives

News of the expanded OCRA/USDA partnership comes at an opportune time for Indiana. The state has been making strides lately to deliver more quality-of-place projects to help communities retain and attract a greater talent pool for local companies. Supporting small business projects would be a great way to continue those efforts and further aid economic growth.



Nine Main Street Organizations Selected for the IMPACT Main Street Project Pilot:

  • Seymour
  • Fairmount
  • Tell City
  • Tipton
  • Rockville
  • Sullivan
  • Dillsboro
  • Elwood
  • La Porte

Source: OCRA, USDA


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