Study Touts Regional Cities Impact

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(Graphic courtesy of Ball State University.) (Graphic courtesy of Ball State University.)

A new study tallies the current total investment spurred by the state's Regional Cities Initiative. The phase one results, released by Ball State University's Center for Business and Economic Research, pegs the figure at more than $1.2 billion, most of it private investment. What's more, the study suggests regional cities projects in north central, northeast and southwest Indiana could bring in nearly 8,000 new Indiana residents within eight years.

Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Doden, who served as the president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. when Regional Cities was being developed, says one year into implementation, progress is "pretty remarkable." He told Inside INdiana Business the main objective has been to attract talent and capital and the program is doing just that.

Doden says two significant developments in his backyard of downtown Fort Wayne -- the nearly $40 million Ash Skyline Tower and the ever-growing riverfront revitalization -- would not have taken off without the Regional Cities investment. "Equally as exciting to me is that there was a project in almost every one of the 11 (northeast Indiana) counties and the stories behind that are just remarkable in terms of people having excitement in their communities and projects that would not have gotten done now are moving forward," he added. "And it's been a real shot in the arm for northeast Indiana."

To date, the study says the state has pledged $122 million toward the planned projects, with nearly $55 million expected to come back to state coffers over the first three years through tax revenue. In all, the three regions could receive up to $42 million in matching funding from the state. When the three winning regions were announced, Northeast Indiana said was looking at 41 projects totaling some $471 million, North Central's plan included 40 potential projects that it said could leverage nearly $737 million in investment and Southwest Indiana's 19 proposed developments would total upwards of $926 million in potential investment dollars.

The study was initiated by the Metro Chamber Alliance, which is a partnership that involves the largest chamber organizations in Indiana, including Greater Fort Wayne Inc., the Indy Chamber, OneZone in Carmel and Fishers, Northwest Indiana Forum, One Southern Indiana, the South Bend Regional Chamber and the Southwest Indiana Chamber.

South Bend Regional Chamber Chief Executive Officer Jeff Rea says "we have seen the Regional Cities initiative as a proven motivator for communities to come together and act regionally. This opportunity to leverage private investment and accelerate vital projects has a significant impact in growing jobs, wages, and community pride." Southwest Indiana Chamber interim CEO Tim Hayden agrees, saying "southwest Indiana is on a roll with unprecedented levels of new investment. The Regional Cities Initiative allows us to accelerate our progress toward becoming not just a major center for medical research and education, but also a population center."

A second phase of the study, looking at qualitative effects of the initiative, is expected to be complete next year. You can view full results of phase one by clicking here.

Greater Fort Wayne Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Doden, who served as the president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. when Regional Cities was being developed, says one year into implementation, progress has been "pretty remarkable."
Doden says two significant developments in his backyard of downtown Fort Wayne -- the nearly $40 million Ash Skyline Tower and the ever-growing riverfront revitalization -- would not have taken off without the Regional Cities investment.
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