Stronger Economies Together

set_logo_finalStronger Economies Together (SET) empowers communities and counties in rural America to work together in developing and implementing an economic development blueprint for their multi-county region that strategically builds on the current and emerging economic strengths of that region. Creating, attracting and retaining jobs as a single rural county in isolation from other nearby counties is becoming increasingly ineffective. In today’s global marketplace, economic development progress is more likely to be realized when rural, suburban and urban communities work together as a region to assess their resources and then design and implement plans that build on their assets and comparative economic strengths.



Stronger Economies Together: A National Initiative Spurring Regions to Build Stronger, More Vibrant Economies

Since its official launch in 2010, the Stronger Economies Together (SET) program has had one goal in mind – to spur a core group of contiguous rural counties to work together in designing and acting on a high quality regional plan that builds on its major economic assets. With major funding provided by USDA Rural Development and coordinated at the national level by the Southern Rural Development Center (SRDC) at Mississippi State University, SET has emerged as a premier program that helped strengthen the economic vitality of rural regions across the U.S. Today, more than 30 states and over 100 regions have been a formal part of the SET program.  Many of the SET regions have successfully captured over $700 million to support the implementation of their five-year plans, resulting in the advancement of stronger, more vibrant economy for these regions over the long term.

Core SET Topics

Regional teams involved in the SET program are introduced to a wealth of information and “hands-on” activities that are designed to help strengthen their ability to successfully plan and implement a high quality regional plan. Topics introduced in the SET sessions include:

  • Conducting a Regional Civic Forum
  • Exploring Regional Data
  • Developing Goals & Strategies
  • Discovering and Connecting Community Capital Assets
  • Finalizing Your High Quality Regional Plan

The Indiana SET Program: Advancing Regional Collaboration

Purdue Extension and the Purdue Center for Regional Development have partnered with the Indiana Office of USDA Rural Development (RD) to sponsor, deliver and expand the Stronger Economies Together (SET) program in the state. Indiana is one of 31 states selected by USDA Rural Development to be part of the network of SET programs across the nation.

The Indiana SET program is intended to help rural counties band together to design and implement a strong regional economic development blueprint, one that builds on the economic strengths of that multi-county area. The Purdue/USDA team provides extensive technical and capacity-building support to Indiana regions that have been formally accepted into the SET program, all at little or no cost to the region.

Four Indiana regions have been part of the SET program in recent years: Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission, Eastern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council and Southern Indiana Development Commission.

The Current Status of the Indiana SET Program

The Indiana SET program has been part of the National SET Initiative.  As such, funds to support this effort were provided by USDA Rural Development.  As of September 2018, the funding of the SET program by USDA Rural Development was discontinued, thus resulting in the suspension of the program at the national level. However, the Purdue Center for Regional Development and the Purdue University Extension Community Development Program are positioned to deliver the SET program in Indiana if funding is available from a region that is interested in carrying out this program.  Please contact the Purdue Center for Regional Development if you wish to explore the feasibility of launching the SET program in your region.



Michael Wilcox

Michael Wilcox

Community Development Program Leader