Leaders discuss possible grant ideas for READI funding

Sticky notes designate ideas for possible grant funding at Wednesday's session at The Commons. Photo by Jana Wiersema | The Republic

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Local leaders are discussing what initiatives could be proposed to receive up to $50 million from the state in economic development grant funding for the region.

About 30 individuals from the city and county gathered Wednesday at The Commons to discuss priorities and possible projects that might be included in a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) application.

The South Central Indiana Talent Region, one of several READI applicants, is led by the Southern Indiana Housing and Community Development Corp. and includes Bartholomew, Jackson and Jennings counties, as well as Edinburgh.

“We have an opportunity to make some transformational investments in our community — and we have the opportunity to get somebody else to pay for part of that,” said Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop. “So it’s something that we don’t want to take lightly.”

Those present at the brainstorming workshop included Columbus and Bartholomew County officials, officials from Hope and Edinburgh, business leaders, higher education representatives and individuals from community organizations such as the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to the Indiana Economic Development Corp, READI will dedicate $500 million in state appropriations to “promote strategic investments that will make Indiana a magnet for talent and economic growth.”

Counties, cities and towns are partnering together as regions to apply for these funds. These regions are expected to attracted a minimum 4:1 match, including a required 1:1 match from local public funding. The IEDC will award up to $50 million per region.

At Wednesday’s workshop, participants split into groups and were asked to brainstorm ideas — local priorities at first, then county-wide priorities and then possible projects that might help meet these needs.

For the full story, see Thursday’s Republic.