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How Can Rural Communities In Indiana Stay Viable?

Rural communities in Indiana face different challenges than more urban town. This week on Noon Edition we look at some of those issues.

A “rural community” is typically hard to define. Often it is just thought of as the opposite urban. But small towns, farm towns and under populated towns all have different characteristics and can contribute to a different definition of “rural”. A recent report from Purdue researchers defined what constitutes a rural community in Indiana to help solve problems in such communities.

Guests for this show included Greencastle mayor Sue Murray, Frank Nierzwicki, community planner and lecturer of urban planning at SPEA, Jacob Sipe, the Executive Director of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and Carmen Lethig, the IHCDA Real Estate Production Manager.

Before you can solve the problems of a small town, you have to know what constitutes a “rural community” in Indiana. Purdue Extension’s Center for Rural Development released a report that defines what a rural community is. Agriculture economist Brigitte Waldorf gave this definition of how to define counties:


  • Less than 40,000 people in population
  • Less than 100 people living near each other per square mile.
  • Population of the largest city in county is less than 10,000 people


  • Population between 40,000 and 100,000
  • Density of people per square mile between 100 and 200
  • Population of largest city in county is 10,000 to 30,000 people.


  • Population over 100,000
  • Density of people per square mile over 200
  • Population of largest city in county is over 30,000 people.

The problems facing rural counties and towns include aging population, no access to broadband internet, a depleted workforce little job opportunity. Our panel discusses how towns facing these problems can become economically viable again, and look at some Indiana towns that have done this successfully.


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