Indiana University students gauge perceptions of local public infrastructure
Public relations students conduct community survey in anticipation of biking infrastructure development
CommunityOrange County Economic Development Partnership, Paoli, IN
Community Size19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
ProgramSustaining Hoosier Communities
Case TypeIndividual Project
RegionEPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure, Sustainable Cities and Communities
Orange County is a rural southern Indiana county comprising four incorporated towns and a number of unincorporated communities. Residents are intent on celebrating the county’s industrial roots, natural beauty, and historic architecture while embracing and preparing for the future. Local progress is driven in large part by “grassroots cooperative leadership” (Report, Pg. 4), while legal and medical non-profits provide essential communal services. This community-oriented mentality lends itself to innovative partnerships between various actors working towards common goals in areas like infrastructure, culture, tourism, and healthcare.
A plan to connect a region through public infrastructure
The Orange County Economic Development Partnership is a local organization focused on “recruiting new business to the county, as well as promoting the retention and expansion of existing industry” (Website). The organization wished to better understand how community members think about the accessibility of their public transportation infrastructure.
Students survey the community to determine public perception
Moving forward, the Orange County Economic Development Partnership reached out to the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program at Indiana University. For this project, the organization partnered with Minjeong Kang’s public relations campaigns course in the media school. Student participants, in collaboration with community partner and Orange County resident Kara Schmidt, were challenged to conduct community stakeholder surveys in order to understand perceptions of planned public infrastructure such as sidewalks, trails, roads, and a bike path system.
Ensuring the success of new development and promoting sustainability
Using their public relations skills to directly engage the community in the process, student participants collected diverse perspectives while promoting bicycling as a mode of transportation and recreation. This project provided the Orange County Economic Development Partnership with valuable consumer insight and moved the region closer to a more connected, sustainable future.
Public infrastructure projects benefit from transparency and communication. By listening to residents’ concerns and suggestions, student participants ensured the lasting success of this critical initiative.
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