Tell City, Indiana, in Perry County sits by the Ohio River, 179 miles away from Indianapolis. However, after a project with the Hometown Collaboration Initiative (HCI), Perry County is just one click from anywhere in the world. HCI targets Indiana communities that are committed to building on their existing assets. HCI has helped Perry County open itself up for residents, businesses and travelers.
In 2014, Perry County joined the HCI after an application process where they assessed all of their local assets. During the first phase, known as the Foundation Phase, they surveyed the community and received more than 1,000 anonymous responses. The survey results revealed a community consensus: everyone agreed Perry County needed to market its assets more effectively. This revelation led them to decide on their Building Block for the second phase of HCI—Placemaking.
The Placemaking Building Block for Perry County represented aligning the marketing strategy of the community with their local assets—a rural, family-friendly community with manufacturing industries, locally-owned businesses and an abundance of outdoor recreation. The Capstone Project stemming from their Building Block took shape as the new Pick Perry website and rebranding of county logos.
According to Hans Schmitz, Purdue Extension Educator and HCI Community Coach, “For Perry County, the key term has been collaboration. They have forged new relationships which have been key to their accomplishments in the program.” These new relationships resulted in a never before seen, countywide collaboration to develop Perry County. The three collaborating community organizations were the Perry County Development Corporation, the Perry County Chamber of Commerce and the Perry County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. This is the first example of the Development Corporation, Chamber, and Visitors Bureau sharing not only board and committee time but also resources dedicated to maintenance of the site going forward.
Bill Konya from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs praised the project saying, “The Pick Perry County website is the very essence of collaboration we are seeing from communities involved in HCI. The website will benefit residents, visitors and local business owners by providing a single webpage for all information pertaining to Perry County.”
Even upon a cursory glance, the website is extremely eye appealing and easy to use. At the top of the home page, it features four tabs for users to explore—Doing Business, Things to Do, Living Here and Discover Perry County.
By clicking on the far right, red tab, Discover Perry County, users can browse a list of 10 assets and interact with them. For example, by clicking on Wineries, number 10 on the list, the website will display links to wineries for users to visit in the area.
The Pick Perry Initiative has been a huge success for the HCI and the partner organizations involved. For Perry County, HCI has given them not only an amazing web resource, but also relationships between community organizations that will last into the future.
The HCI represents the active investment many organizations are making in developing smaller, rural communities. The Indiana Hometown Collaboration Initiative has been developed and delivered by the Purdue Center for Regional Development, Ball State University’s Indiana Community Institute and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.