Indiana officials award all 17 READI grant proposals, totaling $500 million
State officials announced Tuesday the recipients of funding under Indiana's new $500 million grant program that aims to improve quality of life, and attract and retain workers.
All 17 regional READI proposals were awarded funds ranging from $5 million to $50 million.
Jason Dudich, READI review committee member, said each proposal was scored against established guidelines and other data including historical population trends.
"Roughly 60 percent of the READI funding is being awarded to seven applicants in six regions that represent approximately 71 percent of the state's population," Dudich said. "While some more rural regions are receiving smaller awards, the value of those awards on a per capita basis is significantly higher than in more urban regions."
The state initiative aims to encourage public-private partnerships that will develop communities with quality of life in mind.
The READI program comes a few years after a similar state initiative ended. In 2015, state lawmakers created the Regional Cities Initiative, which awarded three regions $42 million each.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said the previous program was a pilot for READI.
“This is one of the most successful programs, I think, in the country," Holcomb said. "As I've shared this with other governors around the country, there's nothing of this size that I found yet. So we'll continue to make sure that this is a priority.”
He said he’s hoping to expand the program with additional funding in the future.
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Northwest Indiana previously applied for the Regional Cities Initiative, but was not one of the three regions awarded money. This time around, it received the full $50 million for projects including infrastructure, talent development and other economic development programs.
Heather Ennis, Northwest Indiana Forum president, said she’s happy to see all regions receive some funding.
“It's great that everybody's getting some funding, it's going to continue to propel the state. And the more great things that happen in the state, the more we're going to continue to grow our name in the country and in the world,” said Ennis.
Ennis said she hopes to see programs like READI and the previous Regional Cities Initiative continue to push communities to be creative and collaborate with others in the future.
The 17 proposals submitted represented all 92 counties in the state. The South Bend-Elkhart Regional Development Authority was one of five regions to receive the maximum $50 million grant.