Leaders bolster groundwork for community development

Leaders bolster groundwork for community development Main Photo

4 Mar 2024


Hancock County is filled with people who care about their communities, and want to make those places stronger and more sustainable.

An effective way to achieve that goal is to learn from experts in community development. Hancock Economic Development Council staffers joined multiple other leaders at the Community Foundation of Hancock County late last month to do just that at a course organized by the Ball State University Miller College of Business Indiana Communities Institute, and Creative Insight Community Development.

The two-and-a-half-day course has been given over 30 times throughout Indiana and Michigan. Last month marked its second time in Hancock County.

Just some of the topics included:

  • Community engagement
  • Local economies
  • Civic design
  • Community wealth
  • Storytelling
  • Community-based action planning

The course highlighted the latest approach to economic development–one that understands job creation does not cause population growth, and that jobs follow people. Schools and public services are the biggest rationale for moving to a community, instructors emphasized, so if a community wants to grow strong–those are the areas to focus on.

Lessons also delved into human behavior in different groups and explored different types of communities, including those of place and those of interest. Experts relayed tools and strategies for fostering trust and community engagement, and underscored that the best ideas tend to come from people not often heard from. Additionally, the course emphasized tapping into the “base programming” of our brains to optimize storytelling.

HEDC Community Development Manager Erica Boswell and Communications Director Mitchell Kirk were among the course’s students.

“As a journalist, I covered economic and community development initiatives as well as community engagement in various locales for a decade,” Kirk said. “This course took a lot of what I thought I knew about these topics and flipped it on its head. It not only filled me with knowledge, but an excitement to help apply these principles to the HEDC’s work.”


We learned a lot about building stronger, more sustainable communities at a course last week provided by the Ball State University Indiana Communities Institute and Creative Insight Community Development.

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