Regional Cities Initiatives Move Forward

Regional Cities Initiatives Move Forward

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has awarded four $150,000 planning grants to the central, east central, northwest and west central regions to support continued regional economic development planning and quality of place initiatives proposed through the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative. The announcement was made during the IEDC’s board of directors meeting, chaired by Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb.

“As Indiana’s economic momentum continues to build, it is vital that we address challenges like population stagnation that could hinder future, long-term growth,” said Governor Mike Pence. “The Indiana Regional Cities Initiative has sparked collaboration and long-term development planning across the state in an effort to enhance our communities through quality of place initiatives. Seventy percent of the state’s population now lives in a region with a viable plan to retain and attract top talent, and we must continue to encourage these efforts. These grants for central, east central, northwest and west central Indiana will support continued regional development planning as each region works to make their communities the best place to live, work and play.”

During the meeting, the IEDC board of directors voted to support further funding for the Regional Cities Initiative and instructed the IEDC staff to develop a phase two plan for 2017 that would allow these four regions and others that did not apply in 2015 to develop long-term quality of place plans and apply for state matching funds.

“The Regional Cities Initiative has given communities a blueprint to address critical economic development issues,” said Lt. Governor Holcomb. “The IEDC board’s decision to fund a phase two of the initiative triggers further growth and collaboration at the local level and gives communities large and small the opportunity to work together and leverage each other’s strengths to enhance Indiana’s ability to attract and retain talent.”

The planning grants for central, east central, northwest and west central Indiana will help each region continue building on their regional development plans, which were submitted to the IEDC in September 2015. Each of the plans aim to advance the vibrancy of their communities in order to retain and attract top talent.

  • Central: The central Indiana region will continue to evaluate economic challenges it faces, like population growth, compared to peer metro areas around the country. Priority projects in the region include improving transportation options, developing a 60-acre tech and innovation district, and enhanced trails and pathways to advance the region’s quality of life appeal.

    “We are excited to be awarded this grant to help central Indiana work towards achieving its regional vision,” said Chris Pryor, chairman of the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority. “In order to drive progress in our region, we will focus on identifying public priorities and developing an efficient way to collaborate with other regional organizations and efforts.”

  • East Central: The east central region will continue to engage community members to increase momentum around the region’s bold plan of focusing on a new generation of entrepreneurs, institutions and communities by enhancing downtown, recreational and cultural areas.

    “We are excited for this next regionally beneficial effort. Workforce development has taken a new turn as we concentrate on career destinations and community desirability as core initiatives,” said Jud Fisher, president and chief operating office of Ball Brothers Foundation. “This funding provides support to help build and preserve quality of life and quality of place in east central Indiana. Attraction and retention of businesses will be easier if we have a place people want to live, work, and play.”

  • Northwest: The northwest region will continue to focus on attracting talent and new business centered around connectivity by prioritizing projects that include significant improvements to the South Shore Line to advance access and convenience while capitalizing on Chicago’s commuting population.

    “This grant is of great help to our transit oriented development planning efforts,” says Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. “Between now and 2022 we will be focused on a commuter rail recapitalization and expansion project that will not only transform our region’s access to Chicago and its 2.5 million jobs, but which will also bring nearly $2 billion in private development and over 5,000 new jobs to northwest Indiana. The planning this grant will fund is critical to ensuring that this investment produces the maximum return for residents of Northwest Indiana and the state of Indiana.”

  • West Central: The Wabash River Region is comprised of collaborative, diverse partners who are working together to shape a region of prosperous communities, quality talent from educational institutions, thriving industry and small business, and infrastructure to support growth. Through this grant, the Wabash River Region will continue developing the projects proposed in Knox, Sullivan and Vigo counties, specifically the redevelopment of the Wabash riverfront through the revitalization of Kimmell Park.

    “The Wabash River RDA appreciates the IEDC’s efforts to keep the Regional Cities movement moving forward,” said Phil Rath, chairman of the Wabash River Regional Development Authority. “These additional planning funds will help keep communities engaged and continue enhancing the quality of life for all Hoosiers.”

In 2015, seven Indiana regions collaboratively created compelling strategic regional development plans that include more than 420 projects. The state selected north central, northeast and southwest Indiana to receive $42 million each in matching funds to support their regional development plans, which outline 100 quality of place projects totaling more than $2 billion in combined state, local and private investment.

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