INDIANAPOLIS – All of Indiana’s 92 counties have submitted applications for an economic development grant program funded by the federal government’s American Rescue Plan.
The requests total more than $1 billion, twice the $500 million allocated for the program.
“We’ve not had an opportunity to seek this much funding in the past,” said Molly Whitehead, executive director of the Boone County Economic Development Corporation.
Being able to request a grant of up to $50 million is a big deal, Whitehead said. That’s why her organization teamed up with five other Central Indiana counties to submit an application for funding from the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, also known as READI.
The grants will fund development and other programs that help communities attract and retain residents and businesses, according to state officials.
“We focused really on quality of life amenities, so quality downtowns because we know that is a key driver to people wanting to live in a community and work in a community,” Whitehead said.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), which is overseeing the program, received applications from 17 regions representing all of Indiana’s 92 counties, according to Mark Wasky, vice president for innovation and strategic initiatives.
In the Evansville area, officials focused part of their application on the Ohio River.
“People love to be around the waterfront, and how do we further develop that very opportunity?” said Greg Wathen, president of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. “And then looking at the various housing options.”
“The interest and excitement around the program has been really impressive,” Wasky said.
The IEDC may help communities look for additional sources of funding to cover any costs not funded by the READI program, Wasky said.
“The IEDC has a variety of tools that we might be able to deploy to be able to support some of these projects,” he said. “But there are a number of other federal opportunities.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation will now review the grant applications and hopes to make a final decision on the grants awarded by December, Wasky said.
Here is a list of all grant applicants, provided by the IEDC:
- 70-40 Greater Mt. Comfort Corridor, led by the Hancock County Economic Development Council
Counties: Hancock, Marion
Proposal Themes: Improve quality of life to increase region’s vibrancy, attractiveness, sustainability and affordability; attract, train and retain highly skilled workforce; increase diversity, equity and inclusion
- 180 Alliance, led by the West Central Indiana Alliance
Counties: Boone, Hendricks, Montgomery, Putnam, Johnson and Morgan
Proposal Themes: Bolster region’s quality of life, outdoor recreation, arts and culture, housing for talent attraction, infrastructure improvements and talent development
- Accelerate Rural Indiana, led by the Decatur County Community Foundation
Counties: Decatur, Rush, Shelby
Proposal Themes: Increase connectivity, make place-based investments including housing projects and public infrastructure, market the region and create career pathways for new students and adults needing to upskill
- East Central Indiana Regional Partnership, led by the East Central IN Regional Partnership
Counties: Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Wayne
Proposal Themes: Boost population trends to end population decline, mobilize learning systems to increase educational attainment and build equitable economic opportunities to increase median household income and earnings
- Greater Lafayette Region, led by the Greater Lafayette Commerce Community and Economic Development Foundation
Counties: Benton, Carroll, Fountain, Tippecanoe, Warren, White
Proposal Themes: Retain existing talent and welcome new talent to increase the region’s population, along with increasing housing opportunities, accelerate digital adoption among industries
- Indiana First Region, led by the Southwest Indiana Development Council
Counties: Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Harrison, Knox, Martin, Pike, Orange, Spencer, Perry
Proposal Themes: End population and job losses through investments in training programs, public infrastructure, fiber optics, transportation and improved connectivity throughout the region
- Indiana Uplands, led by the Regional Opportunity Initiatives Inc.
Counties: Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen
Proposal Themes: Scale and differentiate targeted industry clusters, ensure talent strategies meet industry demands, invest in key quality of life initiatives
- North Central, led by the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council
Counties: Cass, Clinton, Fulton, Howard, Miami, Tipton
Proposal Themes: Attract and retain people, develop the talent and skills of its current and future workforce, and connect talent with the jobs the region needs to be successful
- Northeast, led by the Northeast Indiana RDA
Counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, Whitley
Proposal Themes: Grow population, increase educational attainment and raise per capita personal income
- Northwest, led by the Northwest Indiana Forum
Counties: Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton, Pulaski, Starke
Proposal Themes: Build on success of IGNITE the Region plan, which focuses on business development and marketing, entrepreneurship and innovation, infrastructure, talent and placemaking
- Southern Indiana, led by the Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority
Counties: Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott, Washington
Proposal Themes: Nurture a diverse economy by improving destinations, workforce and entrepreneurship, real estate development, natural assets, connections and gateways, and infrastructure
- South Bend/Elkhart, led by the Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority
Counties: Elkhart, Marshall, St. Joseph
Proposal Themes: Raise post-secondary talent attainment, improve minority income disparity, provide higher wage job opportunities and stimulate positive in-migration
- South Central Indiana Talent Region, led by the Southern Indiana Housing and Community Development Corporation
Counties: Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings
Proposal Themes: With its largest anchor institution Cummins, Inc., this region is focused on advancing new and emerging technologies, ensuring careers are well-paying and equitably distributed and people are well-educated and trained; and to cultivate a culture of resiliency
- Southeast, led by SEI READI Inc.
Counties: Dearborn, Ohio, Switzerland, Union, Franklin, Ripley (excludes city of Batesville)
Proposal Themes: Prioritize talent attraction and development as the region’s foremost opportunity for growth
- Evansville Region, led by Southwest Indiana RDA (SWIRDA)
Counties: Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick
Proposal Theme: Bring new high-paying job opportunities, increase population, reduce the number of households living in poverty and improve the health and well-being of residents
- West Central, led by the Wabash River RDA
Counties: Clay, Knox, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion, Vigo
Proposal Themes: Leverage the region’s higher-educational access, its destination assets and its proximity to Illinois to attract and retain students and visitors in the region
- White River Regional Opportunity Initiative, led by the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority and Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization
Counties: Hamilton, Madison, Marion
Proposal Themes: Foster entrepreneurial ecosystem, generate high-quality and high-wage job opportunities and create vibrant places that attract and retain high caliber talent