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Stellar Communities Program

Stellar is now Regional

Given the increased competitiveness within economic development, a regionalism trend has evolved as a popular strategy across the US. Indiana is joining the cutting edge and incorporating regionalism into one of our most successful programs: The Stellar Communities Program.  Beginning in January 2018, the program evolved into to a regional partnership design. A minimum of two or more communities are encouraged to partner to create a self-selected region. Population divisions are no longer a program component.

Any incorporated Indiana community of any size that are not entitled to direct Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding through U.S. HUD are eligible to apply.

Ball State University and Purdue University are also participating in the program with their involvement to include project support, guidance and data analytics. Ball State University’s Indiana Communities Institute will assist communities in the planning stages with project alignment and data analytics. While Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development (PCRD) will assist communities post-designation with long-term sustainability efforts and project implementation.

Also new this year, is funding from The State Office of Rural Health, a division of the Indiana State Department of Health. The grant totals $35,000 per region for projects that address health and wellness issues within the respective regions. Projects can address a challenge identified in their Community Health Assessment. The funds must be expended by July 1, 2019 and are subject to federal eligibility. This grant only applies to those regions who are selected as 2018 designees. This supplements the current partnership with the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity.
 
Projects examples include, but are not limited to:
  • A community garden
  • Farmers’ markets
  • Wellness programming
  • Behavioral health services
  • Support groups
  • Community meal services
  • Breast feeding support
Representatives from the Stellar partner state agencies began examining the letters of intent following the April 6 deadline.  In April, five finalists were announced to include:
  • Health and Heritage Region — comprised of the city of Greenfield and the town of Fortville;
  • Eastern Indiana — comprised of the cities of Richmond, Rushville and Union City, and Randolph County;
  • Marshall County Crossroads – comprised of Marshall County leaders and leadership from the towns of Argos, Bremen, Bourbon, Culver, LaPaz and Plymouth;
  • Mt. Comfort Road Corridor – comprised of the towns of Cumberland, McCordsville and New Palestine; and
  • New Allen Alliance – comprised of Allen County, the town of Grabill, Leo-Cedarville and Monroeville and the cities of New Haven and Woodburn.
Regional Development Plans are submitted in September. Two designees will be announced by the end of the year. Visit our calendar to view other upcoming dates for this program.
 
Have you visited our resources page? Videos, FAQs and general program information are only a click away.

Regional capacity workshops are now available to communities wanting to apply for Stellar. Visit our workshop page to learn more.

If you have any questions, please email StellarCommunities@ocra.in.gov.

 


Background

Launched in 2011, the Stellar Communities program is a multi-agency partnership designed to recognize smaller communities and now regions that identify comprehensive and collaborative plans for community and economic development.

Through annual designation, the program provides resources for transformative quality of place community improvements by:

  • Utilizing previous planning efforts
  • Leveraging existing assets
  • Fostering regional investments
  • Stimulating continued growth for long-term relevance

Stellar Communities was recognized nationally as a premier community development program when it received the 2012 President's Award for Innovation from the Council of State Community Development Agencies (COSCDA).

To date, more than 70 communities have participated in the process; 25 have completed Strategic Investment Plans, and 14 have received the Stellar Communities Designation.


2017 Stellar Designees -  Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Seven communities submitted letters of interest (LOIs) for the 2017 Stellar Communities Designation Program. Of those seven, six communities were chosen as finalists, received planning grants and were required to submit local Strategic Investment Plans. The SIPs detail the projects, partnerships and proposed sources of funding based on feedback and input from the local community. The next step was the site visits which were conducted by the Stellar Team, comprised of staff representing the partnering agencies.

2017 Division I Designee -
City of Madison
Madison’s SIP includes the Madison Connector, a bike and pedestrian trail connecting Madison destinations; adaptive re-use of historic buildings; creation of a mixed-use facility in a former cotton mill; improvement of a riverfront park; over hauling the community gateways and neighborhood revitalization.

2017 Division II Designee -  
Town of Culver
Culver’s SIP focuses on creating workforce housing with the Sand Hill Farm Development, expanding the Lake Maxinkuckee bike and pedestrian trail, renovating the local landmark Beach Lodge, and improving the western gateway into Culver to create an appealing multi-modal corridor into the town.

 

All Stellar Communities Designees:

2011: Greencastle & North Vernon
2012: Delphi & Princeton
2013: Bedford & Richmond  
2014: Huntingburg & Wabash
2015: Crawfordsville & North Liberty
2016: Corydon & Rushville
2017: Madison & Culver

The Sagamore Institute has been engaged to investigate and provide an ongoing report on the lessons learned and successes of this program. Read the 2017 report here.  For more information or to read other reports, visit stellarindiana.org.