In May, Indiana launched the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), which will dedicate $500 million in state appropriations to promote strategic investments for quality of place and talent attraction. READI encourages communities to work regionally to create shared visions and strategies accelerating economic resilience and growth.
“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,” said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.
Southwest Indiana, through the leadership of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership (E-REP) is primed and ready to compete for statewide funding. Officially formed on April 1st, E-REP through one of its legacy organizations has a long history with the predecessor program to READI called Regional Cities. Greg Wathen, Co-CEO of E-REP, led the effort which transformed $42 million of Regional Cities funding into nearly $1 billion for the Evansville Region.
“During the Regional Cities initiative, we vetted more than 100 ideas from our four-county region and were able to fund 19 of those projects, said Wathen. Given the success we had with Regional Cities, our expectation is that we will see and review more than 200 potential projects for consideration, though that number could be much larger given the interest. Submitted ideas will need to help the region implement and accelerate growth which will be a key filter during the evaluation process.”
READI PROGRAM MUST HAVES:
E-REP, alongside its partners, will create a Regional Development Plan (RDP) as the framework for the READI submission. The RDP will address the region’s current state, its unique opportunities and barriers to growth, and its plan to make public-private investments to propel its future.
► Definition of the region
► Current state of the region
► Stakeholder engagement, community and leadership support
► The region’s identity and its vision for the future
► Goals and outcomes the region expects to achieve if the plan is successfully implemented
► Distinct strategies tied to achieving the region’s goals and objectives
► Projects, programs or initiatives that are required to implement the region’s strategic plan
► Investment plans that sustain the implementation of the region’s plan if or when state funds are exhausted
► Identification of sources of funding that could be accessed to help implement the region’s plan
► The estimated return on investment for the region and the state if the plan is successfully implemented
E-REP, alongside its regional economic development partners, is creating a shared vision for the future, mapping out the programs, initiatives and projects that are critical to retain talent today and attract the workforce of tomorrow.
“When the state announced the READI program, our region already had a jumpstart on a significant portion of the planning process that will be required,” said Tara Barney, Co-CEO of E-REP. “We’re incorporating our regional Talent 2025 strategy as the framework to how we measure success along with ensuring that we are taking advantage of the unique opportunity of the new Ohio River crossing bridge.”
Regional investments are expected to attract a minimum 4:1 match of local public and private funding. The ideas need to be bold that help accelerate regional growth along with positioning Southwest Indiana to become a nationally recognized location for talent. From strategies focused on workforce housing to the purposeful revitalization of blighted or vacant properties for key redevelopment projects, all of these ideas will need to be vetted against a set of metrics as required by the initiative. All of the ideas will be incorporated into a single cohesive regional Southwest Indiana strategy.
The first milestone for E-REP has already started with designating the existing Southwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) as the framework for the official Southwest Indiana region. Community engagement will include representatives from E-REP, the RDA, a formal steering committee and a multi-partner working group. A finalized plan for submission will be distributed to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) by the end of August.
Indiana will award up to $50 million per region to support the implementation of strategies focused on making positive developments in quality of place and quality of life, innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent attraction and development. Funding recipients are expected to be announced in December.
READI is expected to attract at least $2 billion of local public, private and philanthropic match funding that will propel investment in Indiana’s quality of place, quality of life and quality of opportunity. Read more about the READI Initiative here (https://www.iedc.in.gov/program/indiana-readi/about).