Enhancing Business Services to Rural Entrepreneurs

In 2005 the state of Indiana unveiled a strategic framework for rural Indiana’s economic future (RISE 2020) which challenged the public, private and philanthropic sectors, including in situations of higher education to become more engaged in the economic development of rural Indiana. The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) under the direction of the Lt. Governor is the lead agent in this effort. As a member of RISE 2020’s Education Meeting Group, which includes the State’s public institutions of higher learning, ISU has focused on entrepreneurship, one of five of the key strategies identified in the RISE 2020 strategy.


Information from the statewide survey of entrepreneurs will notonly provide a foundation from which ISU can build curriculum but will also assist RUEDI, the SBDC and the Business Engagement Center to identify potential business services to be offered to rural clients. Services are expected to include professional services of the staff as well as projects that can be under taken by students to provide experiential learning opportunities.

To view the survey click here.

In April 2012, RUEDI and the Business Engagement Center invited several regional partners in West Central Indiana to discuss the possibility of pursuing the Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge, A Coordinated Initiative to Advance Regional Competitiveness. It was decided that while there was a need to accelerate job creation and community and economic development within the six counties of West Central Indiana, the strong collaboration needed to be competitive for the USDA/EDA grant did not exist within the targeted geographical area. The group decided not to pursue the grant.

However, participants were in agreement that a more cohesive regional strategy and regional collaboration would be beneficial for developing future projects and seeking funding for those projects. To that endeavor, West Central Indiana Economic Development District (WCIEDD) and RUEDI partnered to facilitate improved communication among organizations engaged in community and economic development throughout Indiana’s Economic Growth Region 7 to create awareness, understanding and trust. Partners will continue to operate as independent entities but the platform will assist them in thinking regionally when approaching solutions to commons issues, while also providing RUEDI with information on how rural economies are currently supported by agencies.(Regional Plan anticipated by June 2013)

To support the economic development efforts of the West Central Leadership Platform and other outreach activities, RUEDI has established a Data Center to insure that all stakeholders have access to reliable and consistent data. RUEDI chose to collaborate with Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc.(EMSI) which provides the most current data available on industries, occupations, and demographics for this purpose. EMSI is a web-based tool that is used by a large number of organizations across the United States. As of October 2012, the RUEDI Data Center has compiled economic overviews summarizing demographic and economic characteristics of Indiana’s Rural Counties, the Economic Growth Region 7 (EGR-7) and each of the seven counties in EGR-7.

Click the county to see the economic overview and relative statistics: