Apr 12, 2024 - News

Central Indiana receives $45 million in READI grants

A map of Indiana shaded varies blues with regional titles and dollars amounts

Screenshot: Courtesy of the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

State officials on Thursday awarded $500 million in grants to support community projects, including $45 million for central Indiana.

Why it matters: Though our region was one of six that received the top award tier, leaders called it a "drop in the bucket."

Driving the news: Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. released the second round of READI grants Thursday — a highly anticipated announcement from a popular government program.

  • All 15 regions received an award, ranging from $10 million to $45 million.

Friction point: When state leaders announced there would be a second round of the program, they said the maximum grant would be $75 million — an increase over the $50 million ceiling in round one.

  • All 15 regions requested the maximum award.
  • "We set a very high bar and every region cleared it," Holcomb told reporters after the announcement, which made it hard to stretch the $500 million across the state.

What they're saying: "We represent a third of the population in Indiana and 39% of the GDP in Indiana," said Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, who chairs the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority board. "We're up to 25 cities. So, the challenge we have now is going back and saying, 'OK, $45 million across millions of people … How are we going to accomplish that?'"

The big picture: The universally liked program started with $500 million in 2021, which required the same 4:1 dollar match as the latest round, and has led to more than $10 billion in investment.

  • It's similar to the state's Regional Cities Initiative from 2015, which awarded three regions $42 million each for economic development projects and was also widely considered successful.

How it works: Each region submitted a proposal that the IEDC evaluated for regional collaboration, economic development potential, the degree to which applications focused on rural communities and alignment with the state's economic development priorities.

  • Central Indiana's proposal was a framework built around the theme "Main Street Matters," to promote the development of walkable and connected districts to attract talent, create "hubs of innovation" and link arts, culture and recreation.

Reality check: While working on the application, CIRDA received pitches for more than 120 projects from member communities.

The other side: What may be more exciting than the grant itself, regional leaders said, is the relationship that's been built among central Indiana communities.

  • "We're exploring all kinds of opportunities and we're not going to be defined by one grant cycle," Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen said, "but rather this collective effort."

What's next: Another $250 million in associated grant dollars, provided by the Lilly Endowment, has yet to be awarded.

  • David Rosenberg, Indiana's commerce secretary, said the IEDC will meet with regions soon to discuss what projects might fit the focus of the Lilly grants, which aim to reduce blight and promote the arts.

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