Indiana University students gauge perceptions of local public infrastructure

Public relations students conduct community survey in anticipation of biking infrastructure development


Carl Nelson


Jacob Simpson, Marshall Curry


Orange County Economic Development Partnership, Paoli, IN
Community Size
19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
Indiana University
Sustaining Hoosier Communities
Case Type
Project Stories
Public Relations
EPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals
9 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.

Sustaining Hoosier Communities Contact Info
Jane Rogan
Sustaining Hoosier Communities Director
(812) 855-0568

Indiana University Faculty Contact Info
Minjeong Kang

Read the full story of the partnership.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

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