Calling it an initiative creating "business buzz that is unparalleled," Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger says the Regional Cities Initiative is doling out funds ahead of schedule. In an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Schellinger said one-third of the initiative’s $126 million has already been distributed for projects in northeast, north central and southwest Indiana. "Population scarcity is our number one threat," said Schellinger, noting the talent effort is designed to fuel private investment in regions around the state. "For the entire phase one, there will be $2.1 billion of private sector money, a fifteen-to-one return on investment," said Schellinger.
Schellinger applauded Governor-elect Eric Holcomb’s legislative agenda, which includes $4 million for additional Regional Cities Initiative planning and prep work.
The Regional Cities Initiative was established in 2015 by the Indiana General Assembly as a vehicle to attract and keep talent in the state. Three regions, northeast, north central and southwest, were selected to receive up to $42 million each in matching state funds for ambitious economic development and quality of place projects.
As an example, the north central region, which includes St. Joseph, Elkhart and Fulton counties, is planning 40 projects with more than $700 million of potential investment. The cornerstone of the plan is a dramatic transformation of South Bend’s former Studebaker complex.