Local Regions Awarded READI 2.0 Funds

(Indianapolis, IN) – Governor Eric Holcomb has announced plans to award $500 million in Indiana Regional Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) 2.0 funds to 15 regions representing all 92 counties to support quality of place and quality of life initiatives statewide.

The funding, made available through the expansion of READI, was approved Thursday by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) board of directors at a special session hosted by the governor and Secretary of Commerce David Rosenberg.

Officials say READI 2.0 will grow the state’s overall program commitment to $1 billion, marking an unprecedented state-led investment in cultivating vibrant, modern and sustainable communities that attract and retain top talent.

Locally, the Accelerate Rural Indiana (ARI) Regional Development Authority (the cities of Batesville, Greensburg, Rushville, and Shelbyville plus Decatur, Rush and Shelby counties) was awarded $30 million.

SEI READI, Inc. (Dearborn, Ripley, Franklin, Ohio, Switzerland and Union counties) will receive $10 million.

Key members of ARI reacted to the region’s award.

“We came together as a region during the inaugural round of READI, realizing the importance of collaboration and truly caring for each of our stakeholders. We’re grateful to Governor Holcomb and IEDC for their continued support of (ARI) Accelerate Rural Indiana,” said Batesville Mayor John Irrgang. “Looking forward to putting our award to good use for our region and the entire State of Indiana.”

“We would like to thank Governor Holcomb and the IEDC for their unwavering support of Accelerate Rural Indiana (ARI). Our vision extends far beyond securing a grant. We’re committed to reimagining our rural region as a place that not only attracts residents but fosters economic growth and prosperity,” said City of Batesville Economic Development Director Sarah Lamping.

“The ARI region is excited to leverage IEDC’s $30 million dollar investment into our region to expand quality of life, quality of place, and quality of opportunity projects. We are committed to using these catalytic funds to propel ARI partner communities toward continual growth,” said ARI steering committee chairman and Greensburg/Decatur County Economic Development Director Bryan Robbins.

“With the READI 2.0 announcement showcasing a significant investment from IEDC and Governor Holcomb, we are ready to launch into what Rural, Reimagined really means, and to show the world how it is done. Our small but mighty region will show why this investment will lead the way in Indiana for impact,” said Greensburg Mayor Joshua Marsh.

“Accelerate Rural Indiana came together and rose to the challenge of the READI Grant process. The opportunity was a uniting factor that no doubt has cemented long-term working relationships and already strengthened our region,” Decatur County councilmember Deanna Burkart said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to showcase our potential and to now utilize the award to speed toward growth and new development!”

“Indiana is leading the way in future-focused investments in our economy and in our communities, ensuring that all Hoosiers of today and tomorrow have the opportunity to prosper,” said Gov. Holcomb. “READI has already resulted in more than $12.6 billion invested in quality of place and quality of life assets. The second iteration of the initiative – READI 2.0 – along with additional committed investments from the Lilly Endowment, will bring billions more to Hoosier neighborhoods, preparing communities, industry and talent for the next generation and beyond.”

In February, the 15 regions submitted proposals for READI 2.0 funding, outlining each region’s vision for its future as well as growth strategies and action plans to improve its quality of life, quality of place and quality of opportunity. An external review committee evaluated the applications based on a variety of factors, including economic development potential, alignment with the state’s priorities, such as population growth, per capita income growth, growth in employment opportunities, educational attainment, housing units developed, childcare capacity and innovation activities as well as the level of focus on rural communities, and the degree of regional collaboration.

“Almost every conversation I have with a company, whether an established Hoosier business or a new company coming to the state, begins and ends with workforce,” said Rosenberg. “READI is an essential component for the state retaining and growing our population and workforce talent. Under the governor’s leadership, Indiana is investing an historic $1 billion to build vibrant and healthy communities that attract top talent, support families, cultivate innovation and entrepreneurship, and catalyze continued economic and job growth. Companies around the world are taking notice of this program, and the General Assembly’s investment in these areas has unquestionably been a business retention and attraction tool.”

Officials say this funding will build on the momentum of the state’s initial commitment to READI, which has yielded $12.6 billion (26:1 investment leverage ratio) in committed capital investments by public and private sources in Indiana’s communities. The 15 regions awarded funding through READI 2.0 will be eligible to access an additional $250 million grant awarded by Lilly Endowment Inc. (LEI) to enhance the impact of Indiana’s investments through READI, focusing on projects targeting blight reduction and redevelopment and enhancing Indiana’s vibrant arts and culture ecosystem.

The READI 2.0 review committee includes: Marianne Cusato, Notre Dame Housing and Community Regeneration Initiative; Robert Gallardo, Purdue Center for Regional Development; Tom Guevara, Indiana Public Policy Institute; Will Hagen, Taylor University; Andrea Kern, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs; Bill Taft, Local Initiatives Support Coalition; David Terrell, Ball State Indiana Communities Institute; and Brad Vogelsmeier, Urban Land Institute.

Now that investment allocations have been finalized, the IEDC will coordinate with each of the 15 areas to identify regionally significant capital and infrastructure projects for investment. In conjunction with these discussions, each region will identify specific projects focused on blight reduction and redevelopment as well as arts and culture initiatives for funding opportunities made possible with the support of Lilly Endowment Inc.

Launched by Gov. Holcomb and led by the IEDC, READI is a nationally recognized initiative that is moving communities forward by encouraging regional collaboration and data-driven long-term planning that, when implemented, will attract and retain talent, improve the health of Indiana communities, and increase opportunities for current and future generations of Hoosiers.

READI 2.0, which was part of the governor’s 2023 Next Level Agenda and approved by the Indiana General Assembly, was a response to the demand for quality of place investments from communities across the state.

More information on READI 2.0 – including evaluation frameworks, links to download the regions’ application economic summaries, and so forth — can be found at IndianaREADI.com.