Radius Indiana launches new economic development effort
Regional economic development organization Radius Indiana has launched a new educational program to help communities in the eight county region to take steps to fill vacant storefronts in downtowns and create new business opportunities. Communities taking part in Spark Downtown could also benefit from federal funding to help pay for facade improvements.
The program is an offshoot of a similar national economic development program, called ReCast Cities.
Over the past year, elected officials, local economic development professionals, and community leaders from region came together each month to learn best practices from experts to transform spaces, change the use of existing spaces and create collaboration between entrepreneurs and building owners.
“With the participation in ReCast we knew we wanted to continue to offer a resource for our region to help strengthen downtowns. Spark Downtown builds on the success of ReCast, but is allowing us to customize our curriculum for our region,” said Blaine Parker, director of entrepreneurship and small business support for Radius Indiana. “We know that to attract new residents to our region and to keep our existing residents we must make sure that our cities and towns have a high quality of life.”
Participating communities in the Spark Downtown program include: Orleans, Odon, Washington, Salem, Loogootee, Bedford and Jasper.
In support of the new program, Radius says it recently secured funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for businesses in participating Spark Downtown communities to help them make improvements to almost any facade project that is visible from the road.
Building owners in participating Spark Downtown communities are eligible to apply and must receive committee approval and be able to secure 50% matching funds.