Erin Emerson, Executive Director of the Perry County Development Corporation, knows community change doesn’t happen overnight. But with sustained effort and an assist from Purdue Extension’s Community Development team, Perry County is identifying and capitalizing on its best assets.
The transformation began with the workshop Transforming Your Local Economy, leading to Perry County’s participation in the Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI). In HCI, volunteers analyzed community data and sought input from a diverse mix of local people to choose a focus on digital placemaking. The result was a unified community brand and marketing campaign. Included was a new website, www.pickperry.com, which highlights all the reasons to start a business in, live in, or visit Perry County.
Emerson and others continued to work with Extension’s Community Development team, conducting parks and recreation surveys to create a community engagement report. The results were leveraged to gain funding to renovate the community’s pool. Borrowing best practices learned from Purdue Extension, a survey and task force on rural childcare challenges resulted in the launch of a not-for-profit and a childcare center that currently serves over 60 Perry County families.
Perry County has hosted Digital Ready Business workshops to help local businesses expand their online presence and participated in regional development through the multi-county Stronger Economies Together program. The county also conducted a feasibility study for a shared commercial kitchen to pair with the Tell City farmers market, serve as a catering and event space, nurture the high school culinary arts program and foster local food businesses.
“Purdue has a team of people who are willing to get creative, who have access to all kinds of data, and who are willing to step in and be that outside facilitator, which is so key in all communities, but especially rural communities where we tend to be in our silos,” says Emerson.
Perry County Development Corporation won a gold category award for the Pick Perry Campaign in the 2020 Excellence in Economic Development Awards. Given by the International Economic Development Council, the awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and most influential leaders of the year.
See how Extension served your Indiana community in the 2020 Purdue Extension Impact Report: extension.purdue.edu/annualreport/.