The South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority (RDA) awarded $6.4 million in Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant funds to 11 programmatic projects during its meeting at the ETHOS Innovation Center in Elkhart. The $6.4 million was in addition to $40 million in READI funds awarded in September to Quality of Place projects. With the awarding of the programming funds, the South Bend – Elkhart region has allocated all of its READI dollars.

“It was an honor to select the recipients of the READI grant funds,” said Dallas Bergl, RDA Vice Chair and President and CEO of INOVA Federal Credit Union. “The quality of READI grant projects and programs stemming from our region was phenomenal. These programs will leave an indelible mark on the lives and livelihoods of participants throughout the region. We look forward to watching the impact of these funds unfold.” 

The program awards fell into four major areas: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Talent Attraction, and Talent Development. The programs selected for funding fall in line with the Smart Connected Communities 2030 Plan, which serves as an outline for the strategies of the South Bend – Elkhart region. The plan was designed to increase talent attraction and retention, improve overall quality of place and quality of life, and amplify the impact of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and innovation economy.

The projects receiving READI funding in each category are:

Talent Development – $3,176,370
 enFocus Fellowship Expansion
 Engineering Your Future
 Experiential Learning Coordinator, Saint Joseph – District 7 Career Hub
 Next Path Training
 Regional Higher Education Talent Pipeline and Partnership Consortium
 South Bend – Elkhart Regional Internship Program (Intern SBE)
Innovation – $1,380,000
 South Bend – Elkhart READI Manufacturing Readiness Accelerator
Entrepreneurship – $1,161,065
 Digital Storefront Project 
 enFocus Entrepreneurship Expansion Support
 Talent for Tomorrow
Talent Attraction – $700,000
 WE+YOU Talent Attraction and Retention Campaign

“The fact that the largest pool of READI programming funds was awarded to talent development programs does not go unnoticed,” said Taryn MacFarlane, Vice President, Regional Initiatives at the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “Our region is using these funds to support and build homegrown talent. We know the work ethic and grit of those living and working in our region. These funds will help expand skills and prepare residents for future opportunities.”

The RDA worked with the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership on the project submission and award process. For the program award process, the Regional Partnership – working through its established committee structure – used a letter of inquiry process and collaborative meetings to support development of proposals by organizations. 

During its September meeting, the RDA set aside $7 million for program funding, with the expectation that after program awards, a portion of those funds could potentially be used for Quality of Place projects. The RDA chose to allocate the remaining $582,565 to Momentum SBE Entrepreneurship Hub in St. Joseph County, which was previously awarded $550,000. This brings the total for Momentum to $1,132,565.

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. Through READI, 17 regions across the state, that represent all 92 counties, are moving forward with projects and programs designed to enhance Indiana’s regions for current and future generations of Hoosiers. Collectively, the state’s $500 million investment is expected to yield an additional $9.86 billion public, private and nonprofit dollars invested (19.72:1 investment leverage ratio) in enhancing Indiana’s quality of life, quality of place and quality of opportunity. 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.