INDIANAPOLIS — Some Central Indiana leaders are voicing concerns over the next round of READI funds.
These leaders are speaking up following a meeting between CIRDA, the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority, and the IEDC, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Wednesday at the Indiana Convention Center.
During the meeting, a number of mayors praised the funding program but pointed out that the maximum amount any of the 15 eligible regions can receive is $75 million. In total, READI 2.0 will provide $500 million for infrastructure projects, and some leaders said that could put the area at a disadvantage.
“We feel like we’re penalized for our success,” Westfield Mayor Andy Cook said.
Other mayors agreed.
“It’s disproportionate for the population,” said Fishers Mayor and CIRDA Chairman Scott Fadness.
Since READI 1.0, CIRDA membership has grown from roughly 13 to 33 urban and rural communities. Mayor Fadness said finding common ground given the READI 2.0 funding cap could create a unique challenge for the region.
“There’s going to have to be prioritization as to what’s going to have the maximum amount of impact,” Mayor Fadness said.
Indianapolis Chief of Staff Dan Parker also weighed in.
“There are 33 communities involved with our plan,” he said. “So obviously everyone has their most important project.”
IEDC leadership said at least 25% of READI 2.0 funds are required to be invested in disadvantaged communities while another 25% must go to rural communities.
“There are multiple regions that consist of 10+ counties, and in some cases, an investment in those areas I would say is also very much needed more,” Vincent Ash, the IEDC Vice President of Development, said.
Mayor Fadness said CIRDA will continue to discuss their concerns with the IEDC, and that leaders anticipate the majority of proposed projects will revolve around urban cores within partner communities.
“How we handle ourselves in that process will determine whether we come out of this as a solidified region or whether we end up having challenges,” Fadness said. “It’s going to be an important 6-12 months.”
Talks will continue until regional proposals are due next February. The IEDC is expected to announce investment commitments to each region in April.