Rush County’s Readiness for Change Part 4: How to Move Forward

So, we know from data (part 1) that jobs and businesses go where the people are. People go where they want to live. Our community has a lot going for us – small town, rural feel, safety, quality schools and good people. But the community insights (part 2) and survey responses (part 3) tell us that amenities – parks, trails, restaurants, art, beautification, community centers and broadband access – would help us love our community even more.


How do we move forward? Here are some considerations.



We take pride in our rural/ag heritage. Population change is a major threat. Fewer people mean fewer resources. Decisions about where to prioritize funding will become a greater challenge.

Ideas for stemming population loss:

  • Prioritizing schools and amenities to increase quality of place
  • Improved storytelling to highlight the advantages to small town/rural life
  • Emphasizing regional associations to illustrate the availability of jobs, amenities and recreation in nearby communities


Unchecked development is another concern. With our proximity to Indianapolis and its expansion, managing growth will become key to preserving our current lifestyle.

Ideas for managing development and growth:

  • Establishing urban growth boundaries to create more vibrant, dense cities and towns while protecting farmland and respecting property rights. Look to Lexington, KY for an example.
  • Proactive discussions are needed.
  • Comprehensive planning, brownfields mitigation and historic preservation can offer protection while still allowing progress.



Amenity development is key to improving life for current residents and to attracting new ones. Placemaking is an effective tool. Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Placemaking capitalizes on a community’s assets, inspiration and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being.

It’s important to consider the aesthetics of public spaces, but understanding how a site is used is just as crucial. Also tying places to the local culture is necessary. Taking all of these points into consideration will help residents fully take advantage of public spaces as well as engaging the community in the planning process.



Beyond marketing and communications, the residents of a community need to have the ability to share with others why they are proud of their community and what makes it great.

How to Share the Story:

  • Owning a narrative: Dispute stories of a depressed community stuck in the past. Look toward the positive and help build forward momentum.
  • First impressions: Appearances are important and others will judge a community on them. Make sure our welcome signs are just that – welcoming and beautiful.
  • Layered approaches: Telling all sides of a story. The mural in Rushville’s Farmers’ Market space has many stories to tell. The farmers are based on real-life residents. The mural was painted by a Hoosier artist with help from local high school students. The face of the director from the movie “Children of the Corn” can be seen among the cornstalks. He visited Rush County for a showing of his movie in an actual cornfield.
  • The T-shirt test: Flags, zip codes, area codes and other local images increasingly adorn t-shirts. Would residents wear a fun shirt that promotes a community or an aspect of our county? What would that look like?



We are proud to call our Rush County communities home and are generally hopeful for the future. Our residents are among our greatest resources. It’s going to take all of us working together to make the future we want to happen. We can choose to embrace change or let it happen. Let’s make sure we do all we can to influence the outcome.

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