One Year In, Regional Cities Marks Progress

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State leaders including Governor Eric Holcomb held an event at the Statehouse to detail the program's progress. State leaders including Governor Eric Holcomb held an event at the Statehouse to detail the program's progress.

Governor Eric Holcomb says a little more than a year after Regional Cities Initiative funding was announced, more than 20 projects have been approved and more than one-third of the state's $126 million has been disbursed. He says, as Millennials continue to choose where they want to live before where they want to work, Regional Cities is an "important tool in our economic toolbox." In all, the three regions selected for funding are working on more than $2 billion in projects aimed at improving livability, connectivity and culture.

Michiana Partnership Chief Executive Officer Regina Emberton and East Central Indiana Regional Partnership CEO Mindy Kenworthy tell Inside INdiana Business the funding brings opportunities and challenges.

In late 2015, Indiana selected southwest, northeast and north central Indiana to receive $42 million each in matching funding as part of the first phase of the Regional Cities Initiative. Since then, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. awarded $150,000 planning grants to the remaining regions, including the Wabash Valley region as well as central, east central and northwest Indiana.

Kenworthy says the $150,000 has allowed the region to hire someone to head its regional program and work toward finding a location to house those efforts. Emberton says, while the $42 million is a welcome asset, it also comes with pressure to finish the region's slate of 18 projects by 2020. She says, in the North Central region, 10 projects are already under construction.

The Regional Cities Initiative is being funded through a state tax amnesty program that wrapped up in late 2015 and raised more than originally projected. The effort aims to encourage counties, cities and towns to collaborate on quality of life initiatives, making the regions more competitive for talent on a global scale.

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