State to announce READI grants on Tuesday

Photo provided A map of the region for the South Central Indiana READI grant proposal.

Regional officials will soon learn the results of their application for a $49.5 million grant from the state.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has invited the region to bring up to five representatives to Indianapolis on Tuesday to be present for READI grant announcements. Eric Frey, executive director of the Southern Indiana Housing and Community Development Corp., said grant awards will be announced at 4 p.m. during the second half of the IEDC’s regular board meeting, which should be available to stream. The Southern Indiana Housing and Community Development Corp. is the lead applicant on the region’s READI proposal.

The state has set aside $500 million for grant requests through the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI). The competitive grant program encourages Indiana communities to partner together on proposals for future growth and improvement in their region, particularly in regards to talent attraction and retention.

The South Central Indiana Talent Region includes Jackson, Bartholomew and Jennings counties and the town of Edinburgh. It is one of 17 regions vying for state funds. The IEDC will award up to $50 million per region. However, regions must attract a minimum 4-to-1 match, including a 1-to-1 match from local public funding.

Officials from the South Central Indiana Talent Region presented their pitch at the Dallara IndyCar Factory in Speedway on Dec. 3. The session included a nine-minute video overview of the region’s plan, as well as remarks from economic development directors from Jennings, Jackson and Bartholomew counties on different facets of the proposal. Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop spoke during the opening and closing segments of the presentation. There was also a time for questions and answers.

Frey was positive about how the presentation went and said that IEDC representatives responded well to the pitch.

“I’m optimistic,” he said. “…The partnership in this group works so well together and put together such a solid plan and presentation. I would be surprised if we don’t get the designation and opportunity for the grant funds.”

He added that they aren’t sure if the state will provide full or partial funding for requests, but he feels that the region definitely deserves a grant award.

The South Central Indiana Talent Region’s proposal includes projects that fall into four categories: innovation and entrepreneurship, education and workforce development, housing and talent attraction and quality of place.

The plan has a total proposed budget of more than $378 million, with $49.5 million coming from READI funds.

“Our investments in powerful technologies and prosperous communities will, in fact, lead to a resilient future for our region and for the state of Indiana,” said Lienhoop during the region’s presentation. “But we can’t do it alone. We ask for your support. Please join us as together we transform the South Central Indiana Talent Region and the state of Indiana.”