Regional Product-to-Consumer Cooperatives and Networks

The primary goal of RUEDI’s fourth initiative is to provide technical assistance and support of efforts that create and launch regional collaborates, as member driven organizations that gather information, recruit additional members, identify needs, and organize economic development activities. Initially, RUEDI thought in terms of 
creating cooperatives to market opportunities for food producers, but since has realized that a wide variety of cooperative networks are needed for rural communities to thrive.

Recognizing the existence of a strong Indiana agriculture industry sector and the opportunity for market growth in this sector through direct marketing to local consumers, RUEDI spearhead the creation of the Wabash Valley Food Hub to serve as a model from which it could learn and share knowledge with other regions across the State. A Food Hub is a member driven, direct producer-to-consumer marketing organization, which provides assessment of current direct marketing activities and recommendations for enhanced activities to increase farmer revenue and efficiency .

While conducting activities for the formation of the Food Hub, RUEDI noted that the local independent artisans in the area could  benefit from similar activities. RUEDI facilitated discussions among interested parties, including Indiana Artisans,and independent local artists to develop the Rivers and Roads Artisan Trail.

A third regional collaborative launched by RUEDI is the West Central Indiana Leadership Alliance.  The Alliance emerged from the realization by community leaders in the area surrounding the University that to achieve an appropriate scale of competitiveness in the global marketplace, individual counties must think regionally to formulate long-term development strategies.