The agency she’s leading remains largely under the public’s radar, but its mission involves big lifts: supervising efforts across the state to improve small downtowns, clearing housing blight, preserving historic properties, helping coordinate community development efforts, and assisting communities with storm water, wastewater and drinking water issues.
“We’re here to help rural Indiana succeed,” Golden told IBJ.
But Golden’s sunny outlook doesn’t blind her to the challenges residents in rural Indiana face. Per-capital income in rural Indiana was $37,566 in 2015, compared to $43,187 in urban areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And average education attainment levels for rural residents are also lower.
IBJ spoke to Golden—who recently left her job in Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration to return to Indiana, where she once oversaw the state’s 529 college savings plan program—about opportunities in rural Indiana. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.