Who we are
In 2005, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs was established as a separate state agency by the state legislature. The OCRA’s Executive Director is appointed by the Lt. Governor, who also serves as the Secretary of Rural Development. Read more about our Executive Director, Jodi Golden here.
OCRA works with local, state and national partners to provide resources and technical assistance to aid communities in shaping and achieving their vision for community economic development. A privilege of our agency is to award grants to fund public gathering places, fix water/sewer infrastructures, restore historic structures, build community facilities and revitalize commercial districts. These funds help communities improve their quality of life and ensure the health and safety of their citizens.
Roughly 40 percent of the state’s population lives across 76 rural counties. These rural communities possess extraordinary natural beauty, alluring small towns, historic structures and quality natural resources that need to be preserved, enhanced and developed. While there are 76 rural counties, OCRA has impacted all 92 counties through its various programs.
OCRA has seven community liaisons who work closely with local elected officials, business leaders, community groups and residents in a designated region of the state. These individuals understand the area, can provide technical assistance with the grant writing process and guide communities through any planning process.
To complement our community liaisons, OCRA also has project managers who develop initiatives, manage the project components and delivery along with overseeing the feedback and evaluation. These leaders possess an entrepreneurial spirit and strive for innovation and improvement.
A hallmark of OCRA is placemaking. We were the first state agency to introduce this crowd gathering idea through our grant opportunities. This is one of the many reasons the agency continues to be creative and innovative to meet the needs of Indiana communities. Visit our placemaking page to learn more.
Another OCRA hallmark is partnerships. The agency has developed and maintains partnerships with local, state, and federal government entities, economic development groups, nonprofits and private industry. OCRA works with these partnerships to successfully leverage dollars from local philanthropic organizations and units of government, along with state and federal programs, to make valuable contributions to Hoosier communities. We also encourage all Hoosier communities to think and act regionally to create economic success on a larger scale.
To help promote community prosperity, OCRA has developed a variety of programs to provide capacity-building solutions and assure ready, marketable and competitive communities for economic growth. These programs fall under four key competencies:
In May 2018, OCRA released the Strategic Plan for Rural Indiana which is a collaborative, innovative agenda to accomplish over the next three years. The strategy outlined five frameworks that were guided by two principles, which are:
- Retaining, attracting and developing talent in our rural communities and
- Inciting and encouraging regional collaboration.
Read more about our plan here.