CEO of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership weighs in on Regional Cities bill

February 24th, 2016

News Coverage:

February 19, 2016

CEO of Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership weighs in on Regional Cities bill

Kayla Crandall & Emily Dwire

NORTHEAST INDIANA (21Alive) -- The future of some of the Regional Cities money Fort Wayne is expecting could be in jeopardy.

CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, John Sampson, tells 21Alive that if legislators dont approve the funding for the third city, our region would be impacted the most.

"Our region is the biggest region of all three. We have 11 counties. We have the most complex and comprehensive plan, and our Road to One Million plan is a part of Vision 20/20, it is our centerpiece, quality of place initiative," said Sampson. "So it's a bunch of money, a lot of projects, those projects are all over the region, and in my humble opinion, this region would hurt the most if we don't get that investment, that third city funded."

The Regional Cities Initiative had regions across the state compete for a share of $84 million dollars to use for quality of life projects and to attract talent to the areas. Only two regions were originally to be crowned winners and would get $42 million dollars a piece.

Governor Mike Pence caught Indiana lawmakers off guard, though, in December when he announced that he'd chosen three winners - Fort Wayne, South Bend and Evansville. He asked lawmakers to add an additional $42 million to the Regional Cities fund bringing the total up to $126 million.

According to House Speaker Brian Bosma, many lawmakers feel like the Governor's administration side-stepped the original statute, and now there aren't enough Republican votes in the House Ways and Means Committee to advance the bill.

Sampson says he understands that legislators have tough decisions to make, but he says we, we as a region, cannot be discouraged by this bump in the road.

"Life is not fair. We have a bunch of hard work ahead of us. When things don't go our way we're going to dust that off and move on. We can't put this money between us and our future so if we get too focused on this then we miss the big picture here in that we have to advance our region together. We need this money that might be very helpful, but it's not the total picture for our future," he said.

Of course, contracts with the 3 winning regions will be finalized after the legislature decides what to do with the bill.

Regional Cities bill met with resistance from GOP committee members