Office of Community and Rural Affairs Announces Opening of Hometown Collaboration Initiative Application Round

Indianapolis – The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) announce they are now accepting applications for the fourth generation of the Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI).

Self-identified communities with up to 25,000 people that aim to develop a new generation of local leaders; promote the launch, survival and growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs; or invest in place through community design, public space developments or other quality of life initiatives are eligible and encouraged to apply.

“It brings me a great sense of pride that in the last two years, we have already seen several communities taking these crucial next steps towards determining beneficial opportunities for their community and their economic development,” said Bill Konyha, OCRA Executive Director. “I strongly encourage every eligible community to look into HCI as it helps in establishing local capacity as well as helping them to move forward with other impactful OCRA programs.”

HCI is a capacity-building program led by OCRA in a unique partnership with Ball State University’s Indiana Communities Institute (ICI) and Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development (PCRD). Together, these entities champion the core principles of HCI, especially working to gain broad-based input and a buy-in that is vital to the long-term success and sustainability of all community development initiatives.

“HCI provides local leaders and residents in Indiana’s smaller communities the opportunity to make a difference,” said Bo Beaulieu, Purdue Center for Regional Development Director and Extension Community Development Program Assistant Director. “The program fills in the gaps of what the HCI team needs, tools, skills and strategies, to make their community the best that it can be.”

The application consists of open-ended questions that allow interested parties the chance to demonstrate their commitment to reaching out to all members of their community who can identify the wide array of needs and opportunities that are present in their hometowns. The commitment to inclusion is essential in gaining community-wide support for the impending community improvement by the local HCI team.

As of Monday, September 12 HCI Generation 4 is open for applications and they will be accepted by email to until Friday, November 4 at 4:00 p.m. EST. In an effort to produce the best quality applications possible, Purdue University will be hosting a webinar on Monday, October 3 at 2:00 p.m. EST titled “How to Write a Competitive HCI Application”.

Semi-finalist HCI Generation 4 communities will be announced on Thursday, November 17. Over the following month, semi-finalist communities will host site visits for members of the OCRA team. The HCI Generation 4 communities will be announced on Thursday, January 19.

The HCI Generation 4 community teams will receive extensive training and become increasingly familiar with the three Building Blocks designed to help them hone in on what they want to predominantly focus on. The Building Blocks include:

  • Economy – Build a supportive community environment for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
  • Leadership – Prepare the next generation of leaders by equipping them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to make positive changes in their community.
  • Placemaking – Enhance community design and public spaces by building on the community’s physical and natural assets.

“Each community has strengths that they already utilize to make their homes a better place and HCI allows them to identify where they still have room to improve,” said David Terrell, Director of Ball State University’s Economic Development Policy. “The local HCI teams will develop a deeper understanding of what their community needs to continue to be successful and maintain dedication of local leaders for years to come.”

In total, 12 communities have received the Hometown Collaboration Initiative designation. All designees are still engaged in the process, moving forward with building blocks and projects in their communities.

For more information regarding the application, eligibility requirements and to sign up for the webinar, visit If you have any questions concerning the application process reach out to your OCRA Community Liaison.

About Brian Scott

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