One of the driving forces behind the three-county Regional Cities of Northern Indiana collaboration says inclusion in the state's Regional Cities initiative would spark an estimated $210 million in investment. Michiana Partnership President Regina Emberton says the program has already boosted collaboration among economic development, educational and quality-of-place stakeholders in Elkhart, St. Joseph and Marshall counties.

She says a steering committee representing 22 cities and towns has been meeting since last fall to identify more than 50 "transformational" projects that could receive support if the group wins the bid.

Emberton says Michiana possesses various "hubs" throughout the region, including entrepreneurial center, co-working spaces and redevelopment projects, that could be transformed into "something pretty unique."

The state has pushed the deadline for application to the $84 million Regional Cities initiative to August 31st. Ten organizations are anticipated to make a run at one of two slots that will be selected by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Those that do complete the application process are slated to pitch their proposals in September.

Emberton says the vast majority of funds that could be stimulated if the region is selected, more than $125 million, would come from private investment. She tells Inside INdiana Business the initiative has already served as a catalyst for discussions and potential projects that may come to fruition, regardless of the Regional Cities outcome.

The newly-created RDA is expected this week to name its fifth and final member from St. Joseph County.

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