A project steering committee in Orange County has identified several potential opportunities for the project, including a social services advocacy center, a bike path, a community wellness initiative, a prenatal health and education study, an incubator kitchen for burgeoning local food commerce and a youth artisan apprenticeship program. The committee will work with IU faculty and staff to create the final project list for an estimated 500 students and instructors from 15 different courses to work on in the 2018-19 academic year.
Selected from among several proposals, Orange County participated in an application process that included a community narrative and project proposals, according to a news release. IU Bloomington provost Lauren Robel announced the newest collaboration at the Bloomington Economic Development Corp.’s annual meeting Wednesday.
“We are thrilled to partner with Orange County for the next phase of Sustaining Hoosier Communities,” Robel said in the release. “The county is home to the exquisite natural beauty of Hoosier National Forest and thriving communities such as Paoli and French Lick, which have large populations of IU alums. This initiative opens up exciting opportunities to build upon existing partnerships and expand the ways we interact with our neighbors in Orange County. We look forward to the many successes we’ll share together.”
The announcement yielded positive reactions from area business leaders.
“Orange County was a natural location to be chosen because of the dynamic collaboration already happening here,” said Debbie Turner, Lost River Market and Deli Co-Op management team leader. “We have new projects to do and new things to tackle that will create community wealth and well-being. IU resources and partnerships will help all of our efforts come to fruition in a bigger, better, more sustainable way. It is a perfect collaboration with homegrown ideas and energy teaming up with a large amount of expertise, background and research.”
Sustaining Hoosier Communities launched its first projects in 2017 in Lawrence County, including an active living plan for Mitchell, a study of the former Avoca State Fish Hatchery, the adoption of the Complete Streets model for infrastructure planning in Bedford, a dark sky designation in Hoosier National Forest and a study of community addiction issues.
“I am very excited that Orange County has been chosen as the next partner in Sustaining Hoosier Communities,” Misty G. Weisensteiner, executive director of the Orange County Economic Development Partnership, said in the release. “The opportunity this will create within our county and among one another is invaluable. I envision the end result will lead to further develop the sense of community within our wonderful area, opening even more doors for continued collaboration and growth to create sustainable places to live and a greater quality of life.”