Recommendations for Thriving Rural Communities

Research Areas: Economic Development, Housing & Community Development

The Rural and Small Town Commission brought together 16 individuals from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors – people with an interest in small towns, rural communities, and unincorporated areas throughout the state – to identify common community challenges and opportunities, and to develop recommendations and strategies to address them over the next ten years.

Between January 2015 and January 2016, the Rural and Small Town Commission analyzed the issues important to 58 Indiana rural counties and small communities everywhere throughout the state.

The commission identified areas of common interest, studied these areas, and developed recommendations. The commission met in person eight times. Between meetings, commission members interfaced with Institute staff. In addition, Institute staff conducted five public input sessions in communities throughout the state.

Thriving Communities, Thriving State is a Policy Choices project of the Indiana University Public Policy Institute. Informed by a representative group of community leaders and other stakeholders, it explores state and local strategies and policies that can help Indiana communities of all sizes thrive and fulfill their critical roles in attracting businesses, new business investment, and workers to Indiana.

Instead of examining local issues on a one-size-fits-all basis, Thriving Communities, Thriving State frames Indiana’s changing demographic and economic realities for three kinds of communities:

• Urban: First- or second-class cities that have been among the 10 largest cities since 1900, generally with a population of 50,000+

• Mid-sized: 15,000+ population in 2010 that are not included in urban

• Rural/small town: Small towns are those not captured above with a population between 5,000 and 15,000 or a seat of county government smaller than 5,000. For the purposes of these designations, small communities and unincorporated areas are considered to be rural.


Expert Team

John Marron
  • John Marron, AICP
  • Senior Policy Analyst
Karla Camacho-Reyes
Laura Littlepage
R. Mark Lawrance
  • R. Mark Lawrance
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