130 regional projects to seek READI grants

The region is ready to submit a list of 130 projects for possible READI funding.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority on Tuesday approved the final application for a portion of $500 million available through the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, also called READI.

Thursday is the deadline to submit the grant request to the Indiana Economic Development Corp., which will decide which of 18 regions' proposals will be funded. At least 10 are expected to win approval.

Mike Galbraith, who supports the Regional Development Authority as a consultant, said the region's submission focuses on three areas: growing the workforce, downtown vibrancy, and entrepreneurship and innovation.

The submission highlights 30 projects that illustrate those priorities, but they aren't ranked and don't have a greater chance of getting funded than the other 100 on the full list, he said.

Even projects not included in the submission could ultimately be funded, Galbraith said.

That's assuming, of course, that northeast Indiana is chosen to receive one of the grants, which will be up to $50 million each.

“We're asking for the full $50 million,” Galbraith said.

He thinks northeast Indiana has a good shot at winning approval because Regional Development Authority officials demonstrated their ability to cooperate and administer a $42 million Regional Cities Initiative grant received in 2015.

The Northeast Indiana region comprises Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties.

Regions that are chosen must match the state grant amount 1-to-1 with local public funding. They are also expected to generate enough private investment to match the state and local dollars.

Galbraith said a loose timeline for the READI program would be presentations to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. in late October or early November, award announcements by end of the year and signed agreements with the state by the spring.

Story by Sherry Slater, Courtesy of the Journal Gazette

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