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Indiana’s READI grants are funded by ARP dollars, meaning additional guidelines for local projects

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All 17 Indiana regions received READI funding, but the South Bend-Elkhart region was one of just five to receive the full $50 million it requested.

Back in December, the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Development Authority received $50 million in state economic development funding. But the projects have to comply with the guidelines laid out in the American Rescue Plan Act.

South Bend-Elkhart was one of just five regions out of 17 that received the full $50 million award from Indiana’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, or READI.

A spokesperson for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation said it identified the state’s share of federal COVID relief dollars as a READI funding source before the program launched last May, but maintained the focus of economic development and talent attraction for regional proposals.

By mid-January, the state began working with regions on additional guidelines released by the U.S. Treasury Department.

“I don’t think it’s a narrowing of the scope, it’s just being more strategic in how we position these projects and programs,” Bethany Hartley, chief strategy officer at the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, said.

The partnership called for proposals last summer and presented its plan to the state in December. Hartley said the organization is still working through the additional requirements, but she’s optimistic that they can still fund quality-of-life and quality-of-place projects submitted by local leaders.

“We’re going to work with the IEDC to say, ‘OK, what are viable projects now that we have them in the queue, and if they’re not READI program-related, are there other places within the state’s budget that we could look to to get these funded?’” she said. “Because they do align with our regional priorities of attracting talent to the region.”

Hartley said the goal is to have the READI funds distributed by the end of the year.

You can keep up with the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership’s READI progress here.

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story said the state announced it would use ARP funds for the READI program in January, meaning new guidelines for local projects. However, the state identified its funding source last year and the U.S. Treasury Department released additional guidelines in January. For the purpose of clarity, the story has been updated.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

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Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.