Inside INdiana Business

State details $500M regional development initiative

Gov. Eric Holcomb talks to Hoosiers about the next steps in the coronavirus pandemic during an address March 23, 2021. (Photo from Livestream)

INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — Governor Eric Holcomb has launched an effort designed to accelerate the state’s economic growth. The $500 million Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, or READI, will allow cities, towns and counties to partner up on projects to “retain talent today and attract the workforce of tomorrow.” The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says READI is expected to attract at least $2 billion local public, private and philanthropic match funding to fuel investment in quality of place efforts.

The IEDC says READI builds on the previous Regional Cities Initiative and the 21st Century Talent Initiative, which encouraged communities to team up to improve their economic development efforts. As part of the new program, up to $50 million will be awarded to each identified region to accelerate the implementation of their regional development plans.

Holcomb first talked about the initiative during his State of the State address. At the time, the governor said he planned to work with the Indiana General Assembly and other stakeholders to ensure the state was in a strong enough financial position to implement the program.

“Indiana is uniquely positioned to make transformational investments in our communities that will catalyze economic and population growth for years to come,” Holcomb said in a news release. “READI will lead the nation in encouraging regional collaboration, and it will equip Indiana regions with the tools and resources needed to implement strategic investments in quality of place and innovation, creating a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our state for residents and for future generations of Hoosiers.” 

Over the next two months, Hoosier cities, towns and counties are being encouraged to coordinate and self-identify their proposed regions. Communities will have until July 1 to notify the IEDC of their intent to seek READI funding. The identified regions will then have two months to create a regional development plan that “outlines the current state of the region, its vision for the future and a game plan to invest in its growth and prosperity.”

The IEDC will provide grants of up to $50,000 to help regions come up with their plans, which could include projects such as infrastructure, workforce housing developments, revitalizing blighted or vacant properties, or cultural amenities. The funding could also be used for multi-year programs, including talent attraction initiatives, public-private partnerships to advance innovation, and small business support services.

Throughout September and October, a READI review committee established by the IEDC board of directors will evaluate the regional development plans, with each region having the opportunity to present its goals to the committee. The committee will host a series of review meetings that will be open to the public.

The committee will present its funding recommendations to the IEDC board, which will then award funding to the selected regions.

You can learn more about the READI program by clicking here.

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