Rural Decline and Revival: State and Local Partnerships in Creating “Stellar Communities” in Rural Indiana

JoAnna Mitchell-Brown


In recent years, public-public and public-private partnerships have become a topic of increasing interest in efforts to establish and implement holistic community revitalization initiatives. One example of this effort is Indiana’s Stellar Communities program. The program is a multi-agency partnership designed to fund comprehensive community development projects in Indiana’s smaller communities. This innovative program entails three participating state agencies, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, and Indiana Department of Transportation. This research paper explores the progress, issues, and impacts of the Indiana Stellar Communities Program. It focuses specifically on describing program goals, planning, and implementation in the first four communities designated as “Stellar” between 2011 and 2012.  In doing so, it highlights community context, best practices, and lessons learned (to date), while providing an assessment of current economic and social impacts to local communities, as well as regional implications.


rural community development, public policy, social capital, quality of life, public-public partnerships

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