Southeast Indiana RDA Gains 'Critical Mass to Move Forward'

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(Image courtesy of the city of Jeffersonville) (Image courtesy of the city of Jeffersonville)

One Southern Indiana Chief Executive Officer Wendy Dant Chesser calls the approval by the Clark County Council to join a new Regional Development Authority a "huge" opportunity. Last month, Floyd County also bought into the cooperative effort. The Scott County Council favored the formation of an RDA in 2015, when the push was on to apply for the Regional Cities Initiative. Dant Chesser says, with the region's two largest counties on-board, the "critical mass" is in place to move forward.

Dant Chesser expects the RDA to be formalized by the end of the summer. She adds work is underway to update Scott County's commitment and bring Harrison, Washington and Jefferson counties into the fold.

"Having an RDA in place not only will focus conversation around regional growth and opportunities, it also is an actual vehicle that the state of Indiana may recognize for additional funding strengths and I think that the real key is saying we want to be better prepared if and when the state announces additional Regional Cities funding or other programs that are to be benefiting a region," Dant Chesser told Inside INdiana Business. "We wanted to be at the table and this is the first step in doing that."

The Regional Cities Initiative requires regions to be part of an RDA. Though Dant Chesser and other members of the southeast Indiana business community worked in 2014 and 2015 to gather full support of the necessary counties, concerns by some in local government cropped up along the way, eventually keeping the region on the sidelines for the first round of RCI. Three other regions were selected to receive up to $42 million in matching support from the state for quality-of-life-focused projects. Dant Chesser says one barrier -- RDA authority to use eminent domain -- was removed recently by the Indiana General Assembly, clearing the way for more county interest.

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