OCRA Announces Application Round for Hometown Collaboration Initiative

ocrabasicINDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) has announced that applications for the second generation of the Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI) open today.

Self-identified communities with up to 25,000 people that aim to develop a new generation of local leaders, promote the launch, survival, and growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs, or enhance community design and local spaces are eligible and encouraged to apply. Interested communities can find the application at www.IndianaHCI.org/apply. Applications must be submitted electronically to Info@IndianaHCI.org by Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

“By engaging in the HCI process, communities are taking a deliberate step towards ensuring a strong foundation is in place for community and economic development,” OCRA Executive Director Bill Konyha said. “HCI guides communities to assemble a dynamic team of individuals and strengthen their core capacity which prepares them to move forward with other comprehensive programs including the Stellar Communities Designation Program.”

HCI is a capacity-building program led by OCRA in partnership with Ball State and Purdue Universities. Together, these entities champion the core principles of HCI, especially that broad-based input and buy-in are vital to the long-term success and sustainability of all community development initiatives.

“Indiana is dotted with nearly 600 small cities and towns, and HCI is the right program to help strengthen the long-term vitality of these communities,” director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development and Purdue Extension community development program leader Bo Beaulieu added.

The application consists of six open-ended questions designed to demonstrate the community’s ability to reach out to individuals who represent groups, organizations and demographics that are not typically engaged in community leadership, but provide a distinctive and relevant perspective. By taking this broad approach to community development, each group is able to identify a direction that supports their community’s specific goals.

The community team will receive extensive training and become increasingly familiar with the following three building blocks before shifting focus to one block later in the HCI process:

  • Developing new generations of leaders 
  • Enhancing community design and public spaces 
  • Growing small businesses and entrepreneurial networks 

“HCI helps position communities to build quality of place to cultivate, attract and retain talent for economic, cultural and social progress,” said Julie Halbig, Vice President of Government Relations and Community Engagement at Ball State University.

“HCI helps position communities to build quality of place to cultivate, attract and retain talent for economic, cultural and social progress,” said Julie Halbig, Vice President of Government Relations and Community Engagement at Ball State University.

Last year, six communities received the HCI Designation and are currently engaged in the process, moving forward on economy and placemaking discussions and projects.

Make plans to attend the September 17th HCI webinar “How to Write a Competitive Hometown Collaboration Initiative Application” by signing up here.

For more information about HCI, contact your Regional Community Liaison with questions or explore current HCI designee communities’ progress.

Visit OCRA’s website for general information about additional programs and initiatives.

hcilogo_originalHow can Indiana’s GIS community participate and help?  For any community engaging in the HCI process, GIS can be an important tool to help map resources, assist in enhancing community design and public spaces, and track and report progress.  If you can help, I recommend you reach out to the representative in your cities and towns and your local economic development organizations, or your OCRA Regional Community Liaison contact [link above], and offer your GIS data and skills to become part of the team.

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