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Standing Ready for READI 2.0

And now, we wait.

Last month, the South Bend-Elkhart Region submitted a proposal for a READI 2.0 grant from the State of Indiana, seeking $75 million for investments across the region that could grow our population, drive new job opportunities, raise per capita personal income, and add or enhance various community assets.

The State has set aside $500 million to accelerate community development investments statewide. An additional $250 million in grant funding was added to the pot by the Lilly Endowment Inc. This funding is expected to attract a minimum of 4:1 match of local public and private funding. 

The proposal was one of fifteen received by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. Every county in Indiana was represented in one of those fifteen applications. The IEDC hopes to leverage the READI 2.0 investment with private and local public sector investment, which could lead to billions of dollars in total new investment across the Hoosier State. A decision is expected on April 11.

Kudos to the South Bend–Elkhart Regional Partnership for their submission on behalf of the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Development Authority (RDA). The partnership is a collaboration of the economic development partners from St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Marshall counties, and it focuses its efforts on a long-term systemic approach to advance the region’s economy by aligning the efforts of various stakeholders.

The Partnership hosted six community meetings in the region before the submission, two in each county. There, stakeholders were invited to dream about the years ahead and the projects that could help catalyze the growth in the region. From there, dozens of other stakeholder meetings and meetings with the READI steering committee helped inform the application.

The region’s plan outlines the region's vision, how its stakeholders were engaged to form that vision, the strategies developed to advance the vision, and how we’ll define success.

The application also includes references to demonstration projects to convey the type of investments that could be advanced with the support of READI funding, including the additional Lilly funding priorities.

According to the IEDC, proposals will be evaluated on a variety of factors, including economic development potential, the level of focus on rural communities, the degree of regional collaboration, and alignment with the state’s economic development priorities, such as population growth, per capita income growth, growth in employment opportunities, educational attainment, housing units developed, childcare capacity and innovation activities.

Once investment allocations are finalized, the IEDC will begin coordinating with each region to identify regionally significant capital and infrastructure projects for investment.

The Partnership will then do a call for projects across the region later in the summer.

The READI 2.0 application builds upon the success of the region with the $42 million Regional Cities grant in 2015, a Lily Foundation grant of $42.4 million in 2019, and a $50 million READI 1.0 grant in 2021. Nearly every corner of the region has been impacted by one of those three grants, totaling more than $134 million. Could a $75 million READI 2.0 award push the total outside investment over $200 million? We’ll know in about a month.

READI 2.0 was part of the governor’s 2023 Next Level Agenda and was approved that same year by the Indiana General Assembly and was included in the biennial budget. The Governor and Lawmakers recognized the success of READI 1.0. In that round, $487 million to 353 projects and programs across the state, yielding a $12.6 billion investment, or a 26:1 investment leverage ratio.  Most investment experts would agree that’s not a bad return.   

I like our chances! We have a strong record of execution on previous grants and can point to dozens of projects that have helped catalyze regional development.




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