SOUTH BEND and ELKHART - The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has approved more than $14 million in Regional Cities Initiative funding for the South Bend-Elkhart region. The funding will support projects including the Elkhart Health Fitness Aquatics and Community Center.

The state has approved $5 million for the Blue Ways and East Bank Village development in South Bend. The project, which totals more than $83 million, aims to increase connectivity in the region through new and enhanced public spaces and amenities as well as upgraded portions of the Northside and East Bank Trails and a new community center at Howard Park.

The project, expected to be complete in 2019, will also include the construction of several mixed-use commercial and residential properties. 

"The Blue Ways project will help South Bend to turn and face one of our region’s greatest assets: our river," said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. "By looking towards the river, we have the chance to create an interconnected region of parks, schools, businesses and homes that is both essential for residents, and attractive to tourists. Projects like this help spur job growth in South Bend that helps make our region a better place for all."

The IEDC has also approved $9 million for the health fitness aquatics and community center in Elkhart. The $67 million facility, which will be operated by Beacon Health Systems, will include medical wellness services, a state-of-the-art aquatics center and a community center with gymnasiums, an elevated track and multipurpose rooms.

Construction has already begun on the 170,000 square-foot facility and is expected to be complete in January 2019. Shelley Moore, president of Elkhart-based Insight Strategic Concepts Inc., says the facility will drive more than $250 million in local investment into the downtown Elkhart area.

The state has also approved more than $500,000 toward the establishment of the Technology Training and Demonstration Center in downtown South Bend. the $2.6 million project will provide education space, including classrooms and advanced manufacturing space, to tenants such as enFocus, Purdue University and the South Bend Code School. 

"We believe that the technology and demonstration center will be an economic asset for Northern Indiana, convening students and industry leaders in a state of the art facility," said Andrew Wiand, executive director of enFocus.

The facility is expected to open this fall.