The Southwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has completed a key step in the Regional Cities Initiative process. It is the first of three regional winners to sign a contract with the Indiana Economic Development Corp., which Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana Chief Executive Officer Greg Wathen says will allow efforts to go "full steam ahead." The RDA was created as part of the process that will open up the region to as much as $42 million in state matching funding for quality of life and talent attraction projects.
Wathen says a more regional approach is the wave of the future for economic development in the state. "I think regional cities is helping us understand the connectivity that’s involved." He adds the Regional Cities Initiative is a "talent play" and will help attract and retain young professionals. The funding will include a combination of local and state funding that will unlock private dollars for a myriad of projects in the region including the Indiana University-led, multi-institutional medical campus in downtown Evansville, as well as research and development partnerships with Haier America and Evansville-based Vectren Corp. (NYSE: VVC).
"Anytime you have the state telling a region that we want to be full partners with you, in terms of not just saying it on a piece of paper, but actually investing in your region, I think that adds some credence that we need to look at the economy regionally," he said.
The other regions, northeast and north central, are working on final steps before making their agreements with the IEDC official.
Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana Chief Executive Officer Greg Wathen tells Inside INdiana Business a regional approach is “how we’re probably going to be defining economic development in the future.”