COLUMBUS – Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers announced today that quality of place projects and programs are beginning to move forward across the state through the transformational Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI).
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) is on track to designate 40 percent – or $200 million – of the initiative’s grant funds to projects and programs in 10 regions by the end of July and expects to designate the remaining $300 million in all 17 regions by the end of the year, accelerating shovel-ready projects and programs that are expected to transform Indiana communities, attract talent and improve the quality of life in the short and long term.
“Innovation knows no boundaries and that there’s no limit to what can be accomplished when we work together to better the lives of Hoosiers,” said Gov. Holcomb. “This transformative program is funding projects that lean into a region’s strengths while building community gathering places, inclusive parks for kids, performing arts centers, and trails that will have a generational impact across each region and every person who visits our great state. In Indiana, there is no greater priority for us as leaders than to work together closely to improve Indiana’s standing as the best location to live, work and thrive.”
The IEDC announced funding awards in December, allocating READI’s $500 million to 17 regions across the state that represent all of Indiana’s 92 counties. Collectively, the state’s investment is expected to yield an additional $9.86 billion in public, private and nonprofit dollars invested (19.72:1 investment leverage ratio) in enhancing Indiana’s regions for current and future generations of Hoosiers.
“Congratulations to all regional leaders who have diligently worked through the READI process. You have reached a tremendous milestone today,” said Sec. Chambers. “Here in Indiana, we are leaning into our communities to continue to grow population and build a workforce to power the economy of tomorrow. This unprecedented initiative sets the national standard for grassroots regional collaboration and development.”
Since announcing READI funding allocations in late 2021, the IEDC has worked closely with each region to develop grant agreements, host community meetings, and organize training to facilitate the allocation of grants and progress reporting. Additionally, because these 17 regions initially proposed nearly 800 projects and programs that exceeded available match funding, the organizations have been and will continue to collaborate to prioritize and select projects and programs most ready and most suited to positively impact the area’s quality of place, innovation, entrepreneurship, talent attraction, and workforce development.
In Columbus, today, Gov. Holcomb and Sec. Chambers joined regional leaders from across the state to celebrate the progress made to date and mark the start of READI’s implementation. Today, 12 of the 17 regions have finalized grant agreements with the IEDC and will begin moving forward with 53 projects and programs included in their regional development plans, including efforts to increase housing, trails, community amenities, childcare, health, and wellness, tourism and workforce development.
Select project highlights are outlined below; click here for READI project highlights graphic.
- Chessie Trail Expansion in LaPorte County: Increasing walkability, connectivity, and bolstering quality of place amenities along the South Shore Line
($14.9M total project investment; $6.58M READI allocation)
Phase three of the Chessie Trail Corridor will connect the city of La Porte to Michigan City, adding 12.9 miles of 10-foot-wide, non-motorized trail running along the existing South Shore commuter rail line. When complete, the Chessie Trail will connect and serve residents across LaPorte County and it will increase accessibility to and around the South Shore Station in Michigan City, helping residents, visitors and commuters alike to access the South Shore Line and future developments anticipated due to the double-track project that will reduce travel time between Michigan City and Chicago’s Loop to just one hour. Development of phase three is expected to begin in 2024.
- Peru Riverfront Developments: Enhancing urban center use and livability in Miami County
($42.23M total project investment; $2.75M READI allocation)
Major infrastructure improvements will be made in Peru, Indiana, to accommodate the significant increase of motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic generated by the new $16 million YMCA, which opened in February 2022, and a 170-unit multi-family residential development. The investment will be used to widen and realign canal and forest streets, improving traffic flow and enhancing safety for both motorists and pedestrians.
- Kokomo Hotel and Conference Center: Elevating the region’s destination appeal and tourism industry
($50M total project investment; $5M READI allocation)
In Howard County, a new, hotel and adjoining conference center will be developed in downtown Kokomo in the city’s tourism district. The Hilton Garden Inn will be a six-story, 123-room hotel with a 22,000-square-foot conference center, which will also be the new home of the Kokomo Automotive Museum, located in the basement of the conference center. Construction is slated in begin in early 2023.
SOUTH CENTRAL INDIANA TALENT REGION
- NexusPark in Columbus: Increasing opportunities for community gathering, physical activity and wellness, and tourism and event hosting
($91.98M total project investment; $6.9M READI allocation)
In Bartholomew County, the city of Columbus and Columbus Regional Hospital are breathing new life into the midtown area, transforming a declining mall property into a centralized hub for health, wellness, and recreation. The NexusPark campus will house an indoor sports complex, outdoor park and trail space, and wellness-related services, while the state’s READI investment will facilitate the co-location of the city’s park administration offices and a community space boasting conference and multi-purpose rooms, low-cost fitness areas, child play and watch areas, and a teaching kitchen to serve local residents. Construction will begin next month and is expected to be complete by September 2023.
EAST CENTRAL IN REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP
- McKinley-Whitely Live Learn Neighborhood: Revitalizing neighborhood, accelerating community development in Muncie
($40.6 million total project investment; $2.65M READI allocation)
The McKinley-Whitely Live Learn Neighborhood initiative is a partnership between the city of Muncie and the YMCA of Muncie to rebuild one of the city’s anchor neighborhoods. With financial support from READI, the project will include: developing a new YMCA facility for community use, acquiring blighted properties and providing home improvement assistance, and completing street and intersection enhancements to accommodate increased car and pedestrian traffic. Streetscape improvements around the new YMCA area are expected to begin in July and be complete by the end of 2024.
- Grant County Performing Arts Center: Fostering art, culture, student programming, and community entertainment across East Central Indiana
($19.3 million total project investment, $2.75M READI allocation)
Construction of the Grant County Performing Arts Center in Gas City, Indiana, will create a new programming and events hub for schools in Grant County and, more broadly, will provide a regional entertainment venue for communities in the region and beyond. The center will have a capacity of more than 1,500 seats, accommodating quality entertainment and art performances. The project, which was initially slated to begin in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic and increased construction costs, will now move forward with support from READI funding; construction is expected to begin this year.
ACCELERATE RURAL INDIANA
- Greensburg/Decatur County Inclusion Park: Providing safe, inclusive spaces for kids, families, and visitors
($349,000 total project investment; $249,999 READI allocation)
This inclusion-focused park, which will be developed in Rebekah Park on the east side of Greensburg, will be a universally designed, sensory-rich environment enabling children of all abilities to interact and play. The park will include equipment made for children of all ages and all abilities, supporting physical, social, and emotional development, and it will accommodate adult participation as well, making it a fun, welcoming outing for residents and visiting families alike. With construction slated to begin this fall, a special focus will be placed on physical accommodations, such as meeting ADA accessibility requirements; engagement of the senses so kids can explore the space; and integration with other Rebekah Park features to support inclusion for all kids utilizing its spaces.
- Indiana Sports Complex: Advancing health, sports, physical fitness, and the tourism industry in Shelbyville
($21M total project investment; $2.5 READI allocations)
The proposed athletic facility in Shelbyville’s Blue River Memorial Park will provide a safe, indoor, multi-purpose sports venue that can be utilized for a wide variety of sporting and community events, including hardcourt and turf sports, sports training, cooking demonstrations, tradeshows, concerts and more year-round. The facility, which will be owned by the City of Shelbyville Parks and Recreation Department and operated by a private entity, will improve the region’s tourism economy, which was deeply impacted by the global pandemic. According to a 2021 feasibility study, the Indoor Sports Complex is expected to attract roughly 140,000 annual visitors, 26,000 annual hotel room nights, and $30 million per year to the regional economy once fully operational.
- Kids Discovery Factory Expansion in Batesville: Accelerating STEAM exploration, cultivating future innovators in Southeast Indiana
($5M total project investment; $1M READI allocation)
In Batesville, Kids Discovery Factory (KDF), a non-profit community organization dedicated to advancing science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM), will renovate a 100-year-old, three-story building at 110 Sycamore Street and develop the neighboring vacant lot to create a permanent children’s discovery center and children’s museum. This unique regional tourism and field trip destination will inspire young learners to innovate and create through world-class exhibits, engaging programs, and STEAM learning labs, providing a first-of-its-kind educational opportunity for students in the region. KDF is expected to attract 30,000 visitors annually, supporting students and families in the region and reigniting regional tourism.
WHITE RIVER REGIONAL OPPORTUNITY INITATIVE
- 96th & Allisonville White River Park: Enhancing connectivity and usability of parks, green spaces and outdoor amenities in the state’s major metro area
($114.8M total project investment; $4.7M READI allocation)
The development of the 98-acre White River Park in Fishers is a key component of the central Indiana region’s White River Vision Plan to enhance the river’s health and increase land usage along with it, spurring outdoor amenities and community development from downtown Indianapolis to Carmel. The park, located at the northwest corner of 96th Street and Allisonville Road, will be free and open to the public and is expected to include numerous features, such as a treehouse, vehicle-rated bridge, pedestrian boardwalk, hammock grove, ropes course, and a paved trail along the river that will increase opportunities for users to connect to Indianapolis’s Town Run Trails Park and to the City of Carmel. Additionally, the region will replace the existing intersection at 96th Street and Allisonville Road with a roundabout, improving traffic flow and reducing car emissions, and the park development is expected to spur nearby commercial development, including a planned $98 million mixed-use development.
Launched by Gov. Holcomb and led by the IEDC, READI builds on the framework and successes of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative and the 21st Century Talent Initiative, encouraging regional collaboration and data-driven, long-term planning that, when implemented, will attract and retain talent in Indiana. The $500 million READI funds were passed by legislation during the 2021 session. More information is available at IndianaREADI.com.