An Update on READI 2.0

The NEI team, which serves as the staff of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) is preparing to submit the region’s application for $75,000,000 through the State of Indiana’s READI 2.0 initiative, led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

 

Timeline for Northeast Indiana’s Submission
  • Regional Submissions due to IEDC on February 16, 2024
  • IEDC regional award announcement in April 2024
  • IEDC will consider individual projects for funding in May/June 2024

 

Application Preparation Process

Unlike READI 1.0 and the Regional Cities Initiative (RCI), the READI 2.0 application will not feature a pipeline of individual projects. This time, we were challenged by the IEDC to focus on regional investment strategies and the region’s vision for its future. So, to prepare the submission, the RDA board and NEI team have been working with the region’s Local Economic Development Organizations (LEDOs) and representatives from each member of the RDA, including the 11 counties and 16 second- and third-class cities, to identify barriers to community growth. Through those conversations, and with lessons learned from READI 1.0 and RCI before it, we identified that population growth remains a key opportunity and challenge for many of our communities. As a region, we represent 12% of Indiana’s population, but in recent years we’ve accounted for nearly 20% of its population growth. However, specific communities in our region continue to experience absolute population decline. Through our discussions, listening sessions, and workshops, it became clear that we must address five key funding strategy areas to advance population growth:

 

  1. Jobs (including infrastructure and entrepreneurship)
  2. Housing for new and current residents
  3. Early Childhood Care
  4. Education and Training
  5. Quality of Place

 

While each county and each community in our region is unique, we all share many of the same challenges. READI 2.0 gives us another incredible opportunity to build on the successes of the Growing With Vision Plan from READI 1.0 to address some of those barriers and further unlock growth within our region. We should note here that READI 2.0 will be a highly competitive process as 15 regions across the state each compete for up to $75,000,000.

 

Next Steps

The RDA Board of Directors will meet in Huntington County on February 13, 2024, to approve the plan. Staff will submit the application on the board’s behalf no later than February 16, 2024. Following the submission, but in advance of the IEDC’s April announcement of regional awards, the RDA board and staff will convene discussions and workshops in each county to discuss the specific funding strategies and the process for individual project owners and communities to seek funding after regional awards are made. We will begin soliciting individual project ideas that align with the funding strategies at that time. Should Northeast Indiana receive a regional allocation during the April announcement, the NEI team, on behalf of the RDA, will work with project owners to assemble project applications to be reviewed by the board. The RDA board will consider funding requests based on a review of regional impact, alignment to the READI 2.0 funding strategies and IEDC’s stated goals, and financial and operational due diligence. Should the RDA board vote to locally approve/support a project through the process, the board will advance the application to the IEDC for final review and approval.

 

Thank you!

We want to thank every RDA Member, every LEDO and every NEI/RDA stakeholder for their support, wonderful work and patience as we’ve worked through this process of assembling the regional application.

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