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Region applying for $50 million grant from State of Indiana

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 6:20 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - What was seen as a once in a lifetime opportunity to help fund large quality of life projects in northcentral Indiana has somehow come around again.

The State of Indiana launched its Regional Cities program in 2015. It provided $42 million to help fund 28 separate projects that officials in St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Marshall Counties deemed transformational.

Today, Indiana’s Economic Development Corporation launched a new program with a new name that closely resembles Regional Cities.

The READI program (Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative) promises to send up to $50 million to north central Indiana.

The new and improved Howard Park in South Bend’s has become the poster child for what the State of Indiana is looking for: a transformed community asset that attracts outside attention and instills hometown pride.

“You walk up and down this stretch of the river, it looks entirely different than it did five six years ago,” said South Bend Venues Parks and Arts Executive Director Aaron Perri. “We’re certainly dreaming about what the next steps could be.”

The biggest dream state dollars of the past helped turn into reality is the $65 million aquatics Center in Elkhart.

Monies from Regional Cities also helped fund urban apartment buildings in Elkhart, Mishawaka, and South Bend, and they helped renovate downtown theaters in Goshen and Plymouth.

The work was done in the name of bolstering the workforce.

Indiana officials are worried that they won’t have enough residents to fill the job openings of the future and they’re willing to make some strategic investments to increase population and their ability to attract talent.

“We know that in order to maintain the state’s economic growth and support the businesses that continue to invest in the state they need to make sure that they are confident that a workforce is going to be available,” said Mark Wasky with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

The READI program will move along at a fast pace.

Local applications are due by the end of August, with the state scheduled to start making some project funding decisions in December.

The entire statewide budget for the READI program is $500 million. The money comes from Indiana’s share of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan and there are requirements that it be spent in a timely fashion.

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