Seven proposals have been submitted to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. for a shot at tens of millions in potential matching funds through the Regional Cities Initiative. Two submissions from regional development authorities will be selected by the end of the year for the program that has been championed by Governor Mike Pence and funded with $84 million from a future tax amnesty program. IEDC Vice President of Policy and Strategic Initiatives Eric Shields says, at first glance, some of the projects have "blown him away" in detail and scope.
Shields says there are some common themes among the projects including connectivity, innovation, entrepreneurship, reuse of abandoned buildings and downtown revitalization. He says ultimately, the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative Strategic Review Committee will be charged with viewing the projects through a lens that includes increasing talent attraction, making Indiana a "net inbound state" and creating jobs. The committee will meet in the coming weeks to review the proposals and determine recommendations for the winning RDAs.
He says the program has stimulated a lot of buzz throughout the state’s economic development community and has brought together many stakeholders with goals of creating regional brands that could lead to a population boost.
Shields says submissions came from the central, east central, northern, northeast, northwest, southwest and west central regions
A notable absence from the list supplied by Shields is Our Southern Indiana. The group faced numerous hurdles along the way, including gaining the minimum of two contiguous counties to join the RDA. During an interview in early August with Inside INdiana Business, One Southern Indiana Chief Executive Officer Wendy Dant Chesser said Our Southern Indiana’s bid had to work to overcome what she described as "rampant" fears about the regional process. Harrison County and Scott County both expressed support, but other attempts in counties including Clark, Floyd and Washington never gained the necessary approvals.
The tax amnesty program will be in effect from September 15 through November 16, with the first $84 million earmarked for Regional Cities and the next $6 million to go toward funding the Hoosier State rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago.
IEDC Vice President of Policy and Strategic Initiatives Eric Shields tells Inside INdiana Business a lot of creativity went into the proposals.