Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch

Crouch: OCRA takes business processes and grant levels to the Next Level

STATEHOUSE (Jan. 9, 2018) – Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch announced changes adopted by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to increase efficiency.

Delivering great government service is a pillar of Governor Holcomb and Crouch’s Next Level Agenda. To meet this objective, OCRA began a thorough review and identified ways to streamline their business processes. These enhancements are a result of staff recommendations and feedback from community stakeholders.

“Indiana taxpayers count on their government to deliver great services, and I am inspired by the steps OCRA has taken toward achieving that part of our Next Level Agenda,” said Crouch. “By working together and collaborating, we are taking OCRA to the Next Level to better serve Hoosiers in Indiana’s rural communities.”

The first set of changes were made to the Community Development Block Grant programs to make the grants more impactful, streamline the application process and address feedback difficulties.

Crouch said that CDBG is a federal funding program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique development needs, which is an important tool for helping rural communities tackle serious challenges and improve the quality of life for their communities.

The CDBG program changes consist of:

  • Changing the information OCRA requests when a community applies for funding, helping to define the scope of a proposed project and the technical assistance needed, which allows communities to make adjustments and increase their application’s competitiveness;
  • Increasing grant award amounts by $100,000 to the following programs — Stormwater Improvements Program, Blight Clearance Program and Main Street Revitalization Program;
  • Increasing the funding for the Wastewater Drinking Water Program, and simplifying the process in regards to how an applicant qualifies for funding; and
  • Removing the 120 day window for OCRA to approve Planning Grants and now requires a decision be made the same date as the application, which allows a community to expedite a project’s implementation at a quicker rate.

Other improvements to OCRA programs include:

  • Rolling applications are now accepted for Historic Renovation Grant Program applications, which increases access to funding; and
  • Indiana Main Street Annual Reporting is now completed electronically for improved collection and analyzation of data. Main Street organizations will also receive on-site assessments to determine capacity and training needs.

“OCRA is intentional in the changes we made and will continue to simplify and improve. Finding ways to streamline processes to cut costs, increase efficiency and ultimately become better stewards of all resources is important to us. This allows us to better serve our rural communities across the state,” said Jodi Golden, Executive Director of OCRA.

Golden said these changes are just the beginning, as OCRA continues to review how best to support Indiana’s rural communities. OCRA is also investigating ways to leverage technology to enhance communications, reduce paperwork and improve efficiency across all programming.

The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ mission is to work with local, state and national partners to provide resources and technical assistance to assist communities in shaping and achieving their vision for community and economic development. For more information visit ocra.in.gov.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 FM WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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