Hoping to tap into a $50 million in Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) fund, the Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority (OurSIRDA) submitted its plan for that money on Wednesday — a day earlier than the Sept. 30 deadline — and will now await to see which local proposals are funded.
“We wanted to be first in line and let us set the bar early,” said Wendy Dant Cheeser, president and chief executive officer of One Southern Indiana Chamber of Commerce and facilitator for OurSIRDA, which includes Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott and Washington counties.
OurSIRDA actually submitted $85 million in projects. “We didn’t total it up, but each of the projects includes a READI funding amount,” said Chesser. “I believe the total would be around $85 million in READI requests.”
Chesser said she knows the proposals OurSIRDA submitted far exceed the $50 million the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has allocated for each of 10 regions that will share about $500 million in statewide funding, but the process is competitive and the proposals deserved their shot at funding.
She had noted at an OurSIRDA’s meeting on June 4 that Mark Wasky, vice president of Innovation and Strategic Initiatives for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, had said they should not “limit our ask because they may be able to allocate other state funds for certain projects.”
For example, for a trail project, it’s possible that might fit the Next Level Trails program that’s offered by the Department of Natural Resources, and that could open doors for that type of funding. Additionally, she said “the same could be said for infrastructure programs, such as broadband and wastewater, and perhaps housing developments.”
In other words, Chesser said there’s is the possibility that if funding for some of the region’s projects is not received through READI, funding could possibly come from another state agency.
Along with IEDC’s offices at 1 North Capitol in Indianapolis, there are other nearby state agencies Chesser said IEDC could literally “walk across the street” to share the project proposals.
OurSIRDA submitted projects that should leverage $1 billion in public and private project funding with 8% READI funds, 15% public funds and 77% private funds. The projected outcomes cited for the region would be 58,000 new residents attracted to the region, 13,100 new jobs both direct and indirect, $56 million in new one-time tax revenues, $20 million new annual tax revenues from continued operations, 2,200 new housing units include in the plan, and $662 million additional economic output due to the spending in the region.
OurSIRDA’s proposed projects include several involving Jefferson County. “This is a very exciting time for Madison and Jefferson County,” said Madison Mayor Bob Courtney. “Our economic development plans are very ambitious and transformative for the community.”
OurSIRDA outlines its plan with six goals that include 18 projects.
The Destinations goal includes three projects — Star Valley Event Center at Borden Community Park, Destination Madison and Southern Indiana Youth Sports Complex in Scott County.
The Destination Madison plan cites building projects that make Madison a regional destination and improve the quality of place, including the Mulberry Street Arts Corridor and Neighborhood Market, Indiana Music City Amphitheater and the Milton-Madison Bridge Gateway followed by the Ohio Theatre and the Riverfront Super Overlook.
The Workforce and Entrepreneurism goal includes a Veterinary Teaching Center in Jefferson County, expansion of the River Ridge Learning Center in Jeffersonville, the One Fund that provides small business lending in the region, and the Sellersburg Family Scholar House for an affordable housing-workforce development partnership.
The Veterinary Teaching Center is a collaboration with Hanover College and Ivy Tech Madison that would establish southern Indiana as a hub for innovation in veterinary medicine, agribusiness and bioscience.
Economic Development and Housing Sites goal includes building an entrepreneurial and laboratory space at the Novaparke and Technology Campus in Floyd County, generating mixed-use development at the South Clarksville riverfront, and workforce housing investment for both single and multi-family units.
The Natural Assets goal includes Origin Park in Jeffersonville by reshaping and healing an urban and blighted waterfront, and the Regional Trail Initiative that includes the South Monon Freedom Trail along the New Albany, Jeffersonville and Clarksville shorelines, Lake Salinda Trail that connects Lake Salinda and Salem, and the Hanover-Madison Connector Trail which links the town of Hanover and Hanover College to Clifty Falls State Park.
The Connections and Gateways goal includes a Commerce Connector from River Ridge to US 31, Sellersburg Town Center District to provide a destination experience along with high-density housing, Regional Broadband Readiness Plan, and Salem Municipal Airport improvements to hangar space and extension of utilities.
The infrastructure goals provide for Charlestown and Jeffersonville wastewater capacity expansion and completes wastewater plant capacity upgrades in Borden to support existing and planned tourism and residential.
IEDC is expected to make its decision in December on what 10 regions from the 18 submitting applications will receive funding.
“I am so proud of the partners within our region in delivering a READI plan which requests funding for 18 projects in Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott and Washington Counties,” Chesser said. “The RDA asked for the best ideas we had to offer, and our communities, developers and dreamers did not disappoint. If the State of Indiana is looking to maximize its return on the READI investment, they don’t have to look any further than our region.”