MONON – The US Economic Development Administration has awarded the Kankakee-Iroquois Regional Planning Commission a grant of $ 34,930 to help six counties in northwest Indiana create a strategy to take advantage of the region’s agricultural strengths.
The grant will fund the implementation of the Rural Economic Development Model (REDM): a one-of-a-kind process developed in Indiana to help rural communities create new economic development opportunities for Indiana farmers.
KIRPC is a voluntary public partnership that assists local governments in their efforts to improve and strengthen community and economic conditions and opportunities through grant writing and administration. The group also communicates with lawmakers, as well as federal, state and local agencies.
The USEDA grant will allow Benton, Jasper, Newton, Pulaski, Starke and White counties to examine agricultural production in their areas to identify opportunities to create new markets, applications or processing facilities that can enhance local value. of agricultural production.
“This regional agriculture strategy will work to develop a rural economic development model for these six counties which will hopefully attract agriculture-related businesses to the region over time,” said Andrew Westfall, director of Purdue Extension White. County and extension educator. “This model will be established by identifying current assets, any economic leaks that are occurring, and analyzing current policy and infrastructure. In the long run, this will help create jobs and hopefully create new market opportunities for farmers in the region.
Randy Mitchell, president of the White County Economic Development Organization, said the goal is to use analysis to identify target sectors to ultimately attract new opportunities.
“White County is excited to be working on creating a strategy to leverage our farm assets,” he said.
Kendall Culp, of the Jasper County Council of Commissioners, said he was delighted to see his county participate in efforts to develop agriculture and work to add value to the many commodities produced by local people. farmers.
“As the premier agricultural county in Indiana, I am pleased to see Jasper County taking the lead in developing an agricultural strategy that will add value to the products our farmers grow here,” he said. declared. “As we work to support our local communities, we need to build on our strengths. Agriculture offers us this opportunity at local and regional level. “
REDM was created in collaboration between the Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA), the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD) with support from the Indiana Farm Bureau , Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Indiana Soybean Alliance, and Indiana. Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
REDM uses proprietary technology developed by PCRD that enables counties and regions to examine their region’s own agricultural production, then engages a local planning team made up of local economic development officials, farmers and other stakeholders. to create and implement a plan to take advantage of local agricultural production, develop existing agri-food businesses and attract new economic opportunities.
The 18-month process began in the third quarter of 2021 and will be completed by fall 2022.