The three regions chosen for $42 million each in Regional Cities Initiative funding are reacting with a common theme. Officials in North Central, Northeast and Southwest Indiana say the resulting projects will boost the entire state, not just their specific regions. Members of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors agree, saying the proposals will address critical issues throughout the state, including population stagnation and the need for "young human capital."
The state will see an extra infusion of funding, since three regions were chosen instead of the expected two. Advisory Committee Chair John Thompson says the "tremendous success" of the state’s tax amnesty program, which ended last month, allowed for the extra funding.
The seven proposals were wide-ranging, totaling more than 400 projects and $4 billion in funding. Thompson says the applications covered 34 counties and 70 percent of the state’s population. The board approved "continued support" for regional plans in Central, east Central, Northwest and West Central Indiana. While not guaranteeing any funds, the board says they could be awarded in the future based on availability.
Southwest Indiana’s proposal aims to increase the region’s population by more than 70,000 within a decade. The $926 million plan includes residential development and a science center at the nationally-recognized Signature School in downtown Evansville. You can see the full proposal by clicking here.
Northeast Indiana’s $842 million proposal includes funding for a planned Food Innovation Center in Bluffton, upgrades to the former Clyde Theater in Fort Wayne and development along the St. Mary’s River. You can see the proposal by clicking here.
North Central Indiana submitted a $732 million proposal, including upgrades to Elkhart’s Wellfield Gardens and increased use of the former Studebaker Plant in South Bend. You can see the application by clicking here.
While Northeast Indiana’s proposal features a massive, long talked-about revitalization of Fort Wayne’s riverfront, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership President John Sampson says other projects will extend throughout the eleven-county region.
St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Rea says a key to North Central Indiana’s ambitious plan involves revitalizing nearly one million square feet of old factory space into a mix of residential, retail and tech space.
A key piece of the Southwest Indiana proposal involves imbedding research at the planned multi-institutional medical campus in downtown Evansville, which Mayor Lloyd Winnecke calls a game-changer for the region.