SHOALS, Ind. – Indiana University and Martin County Alliance for Economic Growth are teaming up to raise awareness of the natural beauty, small-town charm, national employers, and community assets that make Shoals, Ind. a wonderful place to live and visit.

Building upon recent community roundtable discussions, which generated ideas for community development projects, Martin County Alliance for Economic Growth is working with IU Kelley School of Business faculty member Keith Dayton, IU Hutton Honors College students and IU Center for Rural Engagement to conduct a deeper analysis of the economic opportunities and feasibility of new business development in Shoals.

The Hutton Honors College class provides an examination of skills necessary to hone student talents and achieve value in giving back by becoming strategically engaged with real clients. The program prioritizes partnerships with rural and underserved communities.

“We work with our neighbors who need a broad skill range to meet everyday challenges that businesses and organizations may encounter,” said Dayton. “The class offers relational consulting skills and organizational frameworks that assist in understanding and guiding businesses and organizations in community. In doing this, we enrich the community’s assets and enhance the academic and professional skills of Indiana University’s greatest asset – its students.”

Jessica Potts, executive director of Martin County Alliance for Economic Growth, and Nicole Vasconi, quality of place liaison of IU Center for Rural Engagement, met with Dayton and his class on Aug. 29 to give a presentation on Martin County and asset-based community development. Dayton’s class will host several networking meetings and will present a final report near the end of semester in December.

The full team, community, and students, will focus on Martin County’s natural resources, including its parks and trails, as well as housing opportunities that would be attractive to visitors and prospective residents. Conducting a deep dive to map assets, community needs and opportunities and the broader context of Martin County, student teams will identify areas for economic and community development as first step in the semester long engagement. Building on the identified areas, five student teams will offer recommendations that align with the selected areas. To ensure sustaining, positive impact, students will be engaged throughout the semester through virtual and in-community dialogue.

Martin County Alliance for Economic Growth:

The Martin County Alliance for Economic Growth is structured as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, funded by both public and private organizations that reflect the diverse assets of Martin County. In addition, we have a Board of Directors who govern and oversee the organization, which include local elected officials, utilities, business, and community leaders.

Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement:

The IU Center for Rural Engagement improves the lives of Hoosiers through collaborative initiatives that discover and deploy scalable and flexible solutions to familiar challenges facing rural communities. Working in full-spectrum community innovation through research, community-engaged teaching and student service, the center builds vision, harnesses assets, and cultivates sustainable leadership structures within the communities with which it engages to ensure long-term success.