On September 19, the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority (RDA) approved Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant funding to support 19 quality-of-place projects. Of the 19, five are strategically focused on enhancing regional economic development, totaling over $6.2 million in READI-allocated funds. These projects include the Marshall County Career Innovation Center, Momentum SBE Entrepreneurship Hub, Portage Place Business, Culture and Arts Accelerator and Incubator, South Bend International Airport Air Cargo and Logistics Center, and Tolson Center for Community Excellence.
“The South Bend – Elkhart region is a destination for business, and because of READI, we remain committed to building on this reputation by helping transform our communities into vibrant destinations to live, work, play and stay,” said Tim Sexton, RDA Board Member and Associate Vice President for Public Affairs at the University of Notre Dame. “These projects are investing in the region’s workforce, entrepreneurial ecosystem, and revitalization, spurring economic growth and development across the region and beyond.”
The Marshall County Career Innovation Center anticipates both individual student and community-wide education gains from this remarkable investment. Building upon an existing Career and Technical Education (CTE) cooperative among Marshall County Area schools that is currently near-maximum capacity, this $9M project features the adaptive re-use of nearly 25,000 square feet of existing building space on the Plymouth High School campus and the construction of a new greenhouse. The new Center will offer an expanded suite of programing for high school students, including Digital Manufacturing, culinary arts, and Ag-Power, and training programs to upskill adult (incumbent) workers for the jobs of tomorrow.
- Total Project Investment: $8.79 million
- RDA Allocation: $1.75 million
“Marshall County is all in and ‘READI’ for this investment for all in Marshall County and the region,” said Allie Shook, Executive Director for the Marshall County Lifelong Learning Network. “We look forward to continuing to grow our partnerships throughout the region to provide the best, most impactful educational opportunities in the area.”
Momentum SBE Entrepreneurship Hub
Located on the southern edge of downtown South Bend, in a federally Qualified Census Tract, the Momentum SBE Entrepreneurship Hub (“Momentum”) is a truly transformative project repurposing more than 60,000 square feet in two blighted buildings on a1.5-acre site into a regional hub for entrepreneurs, investors, and startup enthusiasts to work, live, create, and thrive. With a focus on connection, inclusion, density, and culture, Momentum will be the physical space – including dedicated workspaces, programming space, and private offices – where entrepreneurs accelerate their ventures by connecting into the rich network of entrepreneurship support organizations and with other successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and mentors in the region. The housing component of the campus will provide twelve loft apartments, including some affordable units targeted toward entrepreneurs.
- Total Project Investment: $12.1 million
- RDA Allocation: $550,000
“We are excited to be a recipient of READI funds to support the growth of the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem”, said Kris Priemer, Executive Director and Partner in the project. “Creating a physical ‘place’ for entrepreneurs to connect with resources, mentorship, and networking is essential to accelerate the number of successful startups, retain talent and grow jobs in the region. Transforming these buildings in South Bend into a regional hub for entrepreneurship is truly exciting for not only downtown, but the entire regional ecosystem.”
Portage Place Business, Culture and Arts Accelerator and Incubator
The Portage Place project is an adaptive reuse project of the blighted Ward Bakery building into a vibrant neighborhood node, community business, culture and arts center, and regional destination. On a key commercial artery in a federal Qualified Census Tract, it will serve as an intentionally inclusive “collaborative village” and incubator space for business, retail, professional services, artists, maker space, health and wellness, and food service. Due to its location in one of South Bend’s most diverse and historic neighborhoods, combined with the uniqueness of the building’s art deco roots, it will attract a diverse range of new talent and retain budding entrepreneurs in the region.
- Total Project Investment: $4.45 million
- RDA Allocation: $550,000
“We are deeply honored to have been selected from so many outstanding, high-quality proposals,” said Mike Keen, President of The Bakery Group. “This support from READI will allow us to renovate the old Ward Bakery Building from a blighted and abandoned property dragging down property values into a vibrant and diverse neighborhood center and destination for commerce, culture and the arts.”
South Bend International Airport (SBN) Air Cargo and Logistics Center
SBN’S Air Cargo and Logistics Center project will continue to position the region’s airport as one of the premier logistics locations in the Midwest with the ability to serve 85 percent of the population in the U.S. and Canada in one day. The project will ultimately develop an air, land, and rail cargo logistics center at the confluence of the South Bend International Airport, U.S. 31 and I-80/I-90 and the NICTD (Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District) South Shore rail line.
- Total Project Investment: $4 million (Phase I)
- RDA Allocation: $800,000
“We are thrilled to have been chosen as one of the nineteen projects that will leverage the $40 million investment by the State of Indiana into quality of place initiatives for our region,” said South Bend International Airport’s CEO and Executive Director Mike Daigle. “Due to SBN’s location, cargo development has been identified in our Master Plan as a growth opportunity for the entire region.”
Tolson Center for Community Excellence
The Tolson Center for Community Excellence in southcentral Elkhart County represents the remarkable next chapter of a long-standing community center. Located in a federally recognized Qualified Census Tract, the Tolson Center will serve as a revitalization for the entire community by offering inclusive and equitable programs, building a sense of belonging for community, and highlighting the rich assets that exist in the neighborhood. The new building will double the square footage of the space to almost 30,000 square feet, featuring two gyms and providing an inclusive space for learning and recreation.
- Total Project Investment: $16 million
- RDA Allocation: $2.6 million
“Tolson’s remarkable next chapter is bright and receiving the READI award affirms that our community center is an important place in the City of Elkhart that will make an impact,” said Breanna Allen, Ed.D., Executive Director of the Tolson Center of Community Excellence.
Launched by Gov. Holcomb and led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), READI encourages regional collaboration and data-driven, long-term planning that will attract and retain talent in Indiana. The $500 million READI fund was passed by legislation during the 2021 session and was divided among 17 regions. The IEDC awarded the maximum grant amount of $50 million each to five of the regions, including the South Bend – Elkhart region. Awards for the other regions ranged from $5 to 30 million.”
For more information about the South Bend – Elkhart region’s READI grant, click here.
To learn more about the READI grant program, click here.