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Newton County has been selected to receive additional support and assistance from the state and Purdue University in the hope of attracting more private, public and philanthropic investment to the rural Northwest Indiana county.

The state's new Rural Opportunity Zone Initiative is providing technical assistance and capacity-building support to six Indiana counties, chosen based on their prospects for economic success following a period of economic distress.

"The goal with this initiative is to equip the leadership in rural opportunity zones with necessary materials to attract capital to their designated areas," said Jodi Golden, executive director of the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

"By maximizing their potential, these sites will be positioned to be competitive with opportunity zones from around the nation."

OCRA is partnering with the Purdue Center for Regional Development/Extension Community Development to provide Newton and the other counties with economic assessments, business profiles, property development data, suitability analysis and broadband mapping, among other support services.

"Our hope is that these communities will become the model of how to bring about positive changes in areas that have experienced economic distress over the past decade," said Bo Beaulieu, Purdue Center for Regional Development director.

State Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, whose district includes Newton County, said he's optimistic the extra help will boost prospects for entrepreneurs and workers in the county of roughly 15,000 residents located immediately south of Lake County.

"This initiative will allow Newton County to further its economic progress and help our local area be more competitive in attracting new businesses and job opportunities," Niemeyer said.

"I look forward to seeing the positive, long-term impact the program will have on our community and the lives of our neighbors."

This article originally ran on nwitimes.com.

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