I-74 Business Corridor Publishes New Regional Agriculture Strategy
Tuesday, October 10, 2023
(Indiana) – Indiana’s I-74 Business Corridor, in partnership with the Indiana Economic Development Association and Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD), have published the Interstate 74 Regional Agriculture Strategy. The document and work plan serve as a new roadmap to guide the region’s businesses, farmers, entrepreneurs, and leaders to create a stronger agricultural economy to meet the needs of today and prepare for the changes of tomorrow.
The I-74 Ag Strategy was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration along with local match from economic development organizations in the region’s six counties: Dearborn, Decatur, Franklin, Ripley, Rush and Shelby counties, and City of Batesville.
“Our regional group’s goal is to build stronger partnerships between economic development and agriculture,” said Bryan Robbins, President of the Economic Development Corporation of Greensburg-Decatur County and Past-President of the I-74 Business Corridor.
“Ag is Indiana’s leading economic sector and we believe helping family farms and agribusinesses in our region thrive will bring more opportunity for all.”
The strategy and work plan were developed through the Rural Economic Development Model (REDM) with guidance by Connie Neininger of CN Consulting and PCRD. Over the course of three years, economic developers analyzed data to discover their major agricultural assets and plan to attract value-added agriculture — agribusiness and food-processing facilities and their connected supply chains — that fit with the region’s capacity, vision and needs. The REDM process focused on understanding the region’s core clusters, outputs, supply chain, current policies, infrastructure, and sites that serve the unique needs of the targeted industries.
Five key strategies are identified in the I-74 report:
- Develop a strong labor force for the ag industry.
- Develop programs to increase a pipeline of next generation ag workers that include a work ethic program, the development of Ag Education Centers in more schools, and the use of a workforce database for ag and seasonal workers.
- Develop a program to help various cultures acclimate into the workforce and community.
- Promote and expand the food supply chain to better connect with consumers.
- Expand opportunities for farmers to sell their products to schools through workshops on product diversification.
- Work with beginning farmers and military veteran farmers to improve the local, small scale, and niche food supply chain.
- Increase production and value-added processing of crops and livestock.
- Expand the distillery and whiskey industries, and wood mill working in the region.
- Increase crop and livestock diversification, regional meat processing, hemp processing, cold storage warehousing capacity, and the availability of commercial kitchens and co-packing facilities.
- Improve the region’s transportation, broadband, and energy infrastructure.
- Improve rail infrastructure and road capacity, increase the number of drivers with CDLs, and make broadband more accessible across the region.
- Evaluate solar and biomass energy as opportunities for farm diversification.
- Enhance the regulatory and policy environment for agriculture and agribusiness.
- Encourage the development of local and state incentives and improve the regulatory environment and permitting processes for ag and food processing.
The complete Interstate 74 Regional Agriculture Strategy can be found online at www.i74biz.com.
With the I-74 Ag Strategy now published, I-74 Business Corridor economic development partners will work with other stakeholders at the state, regional and local levels to help achieve the aforementioned outcomes.
Indiana’s I-74 Business Corridor is 80 miles of opportunity where businesses can reach huge consumer markets – more than 115 million – with easy access to I-74 and its connections to interstates in all directions. With more than 6,000 acres across many sites and 50 buildings available throughout the region, there’s plenty of room to start and grow a business of any type or size.
I-74 Business Corridor partners include the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Duke Energy, Hoosier Energy, CenterPoint Energy, Indiana American Water, Economic Development Corporation of Greensburg & Decatur County, One Dearborn, City of Batesville, Franklin County Economic Development Commission, Rush County Economic & Community Development Corporation, Shelby County Development Corporation and Ripley County Economic Development Corporation.
Mike Perleberg, Executive Director
One Dearborn, Inc.
500 Industrial Drive, Suite 2110
Lawrenceburg, IN 47025
Phone: (513) 256-1843