An organization of successful cities and counties near Interstate 74 southeast of Indianapolis has submitted a funding request to the state to support $866 million in projects and programs for building communities and the region’s workforce. The organization, Accelerate Rural Indiana, requested $50 million from the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) as a next step toward launching the projects. The request was submitted Sept. 29.
Accelerate Rural Indiana is composed of Batesville, Greensburg, Rushville and Shelbyville along with Decatur, Rush and Shelby counties. Its application includes 40 core initiatives gathered from interactions with more than 3,000 residents, anchor institutions and other key stakeholders.
The improvements sprang from overarching regional priorities which remove barriers and enable the region to seize opportunities to grow. Specific regional projects and programs include more and better-quality housing alternatives; improved quality of life amenities such as trails, parks and family activities; targeted education and workforce development programming; enhanced water, sanitary sewer, road and broadband infrastructure for attracting regional investment; and regional marketing to attract talent and investment.
“We see a promising future for our region on the other side of this development plan—a future that is characterized by regional collaboration and enhanced opportunities for our area’s residents,” said Bryan Robbins, chair of the region’s steering committee. “We’ve had an historic amount of cooperation toward devising a vision of who we want to be as a region, and READI is an opportunity to gather that momentum and accelerate toward our promising future, together.”
Accelerate Rural Indiana communities are working together formally for the first time after having blazed a path of rural excellence in Southeastern Indiana through informal cooperation. In the past five years, they have landed more than $73 million in grants and philanthropic funding, leveraging more than $1.4 billion in private investment.
READI builds on the framework and successes of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative and the 21st Century Talent Initiative, encouraging neighboring communities across the state to work collaboratively to develop a bold vision for their future that, when implemented, will attract, develop and retain talent in Indiana.
To achieve this vision, regions were invited to develop data-driven, actionable and sustainable development plans that outline strategies focused on improving the quality of place, quality of life and quality of opportunity within their communities. To help regions achieve their goals, the IEDC will award up to $50 million to selected regions to accelerate the implementation of regional development plans and the programs and projects identified that will catalyze economic and population growth.