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Rural communities may hold key to post-COVID economic recovery

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INDIANAPOLIS (Network Indiana): The way out of an economic slump because of the coronavirus pandemic may lie in rural Indiana.

That’s the assertion from Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. She tells Inside Indiana Business the state has already pumped over $20 million in economic relief to communities in rural parts of the state, with plans to pump even more soon through grant programs.

“We’re right in the process of another $20 million grant application to give even more,” she said. “We will be focusing on those areas, but also addressing child care issues, mental health, and child care assistance.”

The state is working with the Indiana Office for Community and Rural Affairs, which is now being led by former Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner. Spinner said knows what these communities need having led one himself.

“As a former mayor I can see how that investment, coming alongside local industry and local business to support that, how important that is,” Spinner said. “As we’ve gone through this … I truly believe there is an opportunity for rural Indiana to lead the revival.”

Crouch and Spinner both agree that a way to spur that revival is to stay the course with the state’s plan to invest $100 million to bring broadband Internet access to rural areas. She says having strong Internet access is essential for workforce growth, education, and healthcare.

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