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Rocking the Regions: Regional Cities Grants Awarded

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The announcement came in mid-December when the governor and the IEDC board approved the recommendations of the Indiana Regional Cities Strategic Review Committee. The three winners, whose proposals were not ranked against each other in the announcement, are:

  • Southwest Indiana. The proposal has a total cost of $926 million which includes investments in education and residential development projects. This proposal is targeted at raising the area’s population by more than 70,000 people within a decade.
  • Northeast Indiana. With a total cost of $842 million, this proposal wants to reach one million regional residents and includes new recreation and entrepreneurial investment projects
  • North Central Indiana. This proposal has a $732 million price tag but will see a variety of improvements and upgrades to both recreational and industrial facilities.

Representatives from each of the winners, alongside the IEDC, said their projects will be a boon not just to their regions but also to the entire state. Each of the winning proposals in some way addresses population stagnation and encouraging younger people to remain in or move to Indiana rather than seek opportunity elsewhere.

Don Babcock, NIPSCO’s director of economic development, called the initiative a game changer for Indiana. “It was a great effort by all seven regions, and NIPSCO is excited that two of the three awards are in our service territory,” Babcock said. “This will continue to prove Indiana’s potential and outstanding leadership.”

The four bids that were not awarded funding at this time should not be ignored though. Along with the announcement of the winners came a vote of “continued support” from the IEDC for the plans proposed from the Central, East Central, Northwest and West Centralregions of the state. The board indicated this meant funds could be awarded to these plans in the future as more money becomes available.

Funding is an interesting question, seeing as how as of right now only two projects were afforded funding and yet three have been named winners. As a result, the legislature of Indiana will have to approve additional funds be transferred, which will come from tax amnesty collections, to the tune of another $70 million. According to Advisory Committee Chair John Thompson, the state’s tax amnesty program has been a tremendous success and they only recommended a third award because the money had already been raised to fund it. The governor and other officials are confident the legislature will approve this further transfer soon in this session.

Now that the winners have been announced, funds will begin to be distributed (once the additional funding is secured) and projects will begin in the winning regions. Meanwhile, the IEDC says it will work with the other regions in their own efforts in line with their proposals and encourage ongoing collaboration throughout the state.

Each of the region’s proposals can be viewed at: www.indianaregionalcities.com

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