Indiana University students help co-op generate revenue, expand services

Students studying entrepreneurship develop strategies to make local co-op more productive, profitable, and beneficial to the community


Carl Nelson


Jacob Simpson, Marshall Curry


Orange County Recycling Co-Op, Paoli, In
Community Size
19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
Indiana University
Sustaining Hoosier Communities
Case Type
Project Stories
Entrepreneurial, Management
EPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals
12 Responsible Consumption and Production

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. 

Local co-op eyes strategies for smart growth

The cooperatively owned Orange County Recycling Co-Op operates a recycling program for local families and businesses. As the only service of its kind in the county, the organization plays a vital role in facilitating sustainable community habits. In addition to collecting, sorting, and processing recyclable waste, it also aims to combat climate change through community education (Mission Statement). In an effort to grow its unique business, the Co-Op sought ways to generate revenue, become more internally efficient, and expand access to its educational programming.

Students focus on revenue, education, and efficiency

Enter the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program at Indiana University. The Orange County Recycling Co-Op partnered with Professor Marty Pieratt’s venture ideas and models course in the Kelley School of Business. Working with community partner John Maier, Pieratt’s students were challenged to brainstorm novel entrepreneurial strategies for the Co-Op. They specifically focused on generating new revenue, improving internal workflow efficiency, and increasing community education programs.

Entrepreneurial paths to a more sustainable community

Participants identified new sources of revenue for the Orange County Recycling Co-Op, streamlined its internal processes, and recommended improvements to the quality and accessibility of its educational programming. With a new sense of organizational clarity, it can continue to improve its recycling program and other essential services.

A multifaceted organization, the Orange County Recycling Co-Op serves as a hub for community members working together to combat the effects of climate change and reduce local emissions. This project will benefit not only the Co-Op, but also the next generation of Orange County residents as they learn to collectively strive for sustainability. 

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

Read the full story of the partnership.

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

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