Group Embraces 'Regional Cities' Concept

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New Albany-based One Southern Indiana is taking a proactive approach to a state push to boost "regional city" developments. The organization has launched a steering committee to develop a long-term plan it says could lead to $1 billion in future state investment. 1si President Wendy Dant Chesser says the region must capitalize on the collective advantages of Clark and Floyd County communities, since it doesn't have a single "hub" city within its borders. The General Assembly is slated to discuss legislation championed by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. that calls for the state to fund major projects designed to enhance quality of life in as many as eight cities or regions.

December 3, 2014

News Release

NEW ALBANY, Ind. - One Southern Indiana (1si) announced today the creation of a Regional Cities Initiative Steering Committee, which has been tasked with preparing an eight year regional plan. The plan will be used in the preparation of a grant which could result in an infusion of up to $1 billion into Clark and Floyd Counties from the state of Indiana over the next eight years.

Members of the Steering Committee include:

1. Mayor Mike Moore, City of Jeffersonville

2. Mayor Jeff Gahan, City of New Albany

3. Mayor Bob Hall, City of Charlestown

4. Town Council President Bob Polston, Town of Clarksville

5. Jim Epperson, Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau

6. Jill Saegesser, River Hills Economic Development District & Regional Planning Commission

7. Dr. Uric Dufrene, Indiana University Southeast

8. Dana Huber, Huber’s Orchard, Winery and Vineyards

9. Scott Olinger, Harding, Shymanski & Company, PSC

10. Kent Lanum, Paul Ogle Foundation

11. Paul Wheatley, River Ridge Commerce Center

12. Mike Heaton, Duke Energy

13. David Vince, Clark County REMC

14. Kerry Stemler, KM Stemler Company, Inc.

15. Matt Chalfant, New Albany Developer

16. Wendy Dant Chesser, One Southern Indiana

What is the Regional Cities Initiative?

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) will seek legislation in 2015 to create the Regional Cities Initiative which will allow the State of Indiana to be a financial partner with regions that develop a strong vision, plan and partnership to facilitate significant investment in the region. Up to eight cities or regions in the state will be chosen to receive funding based upon a variety of factors including proposed transformational projects focused on enhancing quality of place. For more information on the IEDC's Regional Cities Initiative: http://indianaregionalcities.com/

The decision to create a steering committee was made after the state encouraged public and private leadership in Indiana's regions to create their own visions and action plans to enhance and build dynamic public spaces to attract families, companies and individuals around the country to live and work in their regions.

"In order to compete with larger metropolitan areas such as Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Evansville, it is imperative that communities within Clark and Floyd counties work together now. We have received support for this enterprise from the Mayors of Charlestown, Jeffersonville, New Albany and the town council President of Clarksville, who have all met and agreed that this is the best course to follow," stated 1si President Wendy Dant Chesser. "This is an incredible opportunity to fund a variety of projects that could significantly enhance Southern Indiana's appeal to businesses, professionals and families, as well as provide new opportunities and services to current residents."

1si’s Strategy for Southern Indiana communities

The project will include four phases. The first, which was completed last month, was presented to the steering committee by Aaron Renn, President of Urbanophile, an opinion-leading urban affairs consultant. Renn's analysis of the Southern Indiana region included demographic advantages and challenges, a comparison with benchmark communities, and potential "game-changing" projects for the region. Several factors mark Southern Indiana as a regional hub including being a part of the Louisville Metropolitan Statistical Area, the advantage of having four separate community teams with the power to act on projects, maximizing the benefits of the Ohio River Bridges Project including the Big Four Walking Bridge and the creation and growth of River Ridge Commerce Center.

Phase II will include contracting with an urban planning firm to develop a complete "World-Class Communities" plan for the participating communities. The State has provided a list of recommended firms from which to choose the most qualified for our community’s unique characteristics.

Phases III and IV will include working with the State of Indiana for program approval and application preparation.

1si has hired OpenWater LLC, a community & economic development consulting company under the direction of Wanda Heath. Working under contract until the project is complete, Heath will make the RCI her priority, organizing community input forums, tasks and managing deadlines. Prior to launching her business, Heath served as Senior Project Manager in the southeast & southwest region of Indiana for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the state’s lead job attraction agency. Heath’s experience includes working successfully with business executives, government leaders and economic development professionals across southern Indiana and around the world to recruit and retain job-creating investment to the state.

Matt Hall, Executive Vice President of 1si said, “Wanda's passion for community development began over a decade ago at the Indiana Department of Commerce where she assisted local and regional leaders with community grant proposals. She has had a long career working with the State of Indiana to achieve goals like the ones of the initiative and we are confident she will be a great asset.”

Funding the Local Effort

Funding for these phases is being provided by the Paul Ogle Foundation. Kent Lanum, President and CEO of the Foundation said, "We are happy to provide the funding for the initial phases of this project and are confident our outlay will have tangible and transformational outcomes for the community. This is an investment in the future of Southern Indiana and its citizens, touching two of our four key areas of interest - promoting economic prosperity and fostering regional cooperation. It is the type of project for which the Ogle Foundation was created and we are proud to be a part of it."

About One Southern Indiana:

One Southern Indiana (1si) was formed in July of 2006 from the Economic Development organization serving Clark and Floyd counties and the Chamber of Commerce. 1si's mission is to provide the connections, resources and services that help businesses innovate and thrive in Southern Indiana / Louisville metro area.

Since its inception, the organization has evolved to include a three prong approach to serve its members and investors. Business Resources, as the chamber side of the organization, encompasses membership, signature events and programs which support and encourage business growth; Economic Development works to grow the regional economy through the attraction of new commerce and assists with retention and expansion of existing businesses; Advocacy supports businesses at the government level by engaging in the initiatives to preserve, protect and promote a business friendly environment free of obstacles to growth and development of commerce. For more information on One Southern Indiana: www.1si.org

Source: One Southern Indiana