Greg Hildebrand, CEO and President of the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation appeared before the county commissioners on Monday and reported on READI 2.0.   Under the leadership of Governor Holcomb, Indiana has experienced four consecutive record-breaking years for job and investment commitments. To maintain this momentum and accelerate the state’s economic growth, Indiana launched the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), a bold, transformational initiative that will dedicate $500 million in state appropriations to promote strategic investments that will make Indiana a magnet for talent and economic growth.  

Through this initiative, the state is encouraging neighboring counties, cities, and towns to partner to create a shared vision for their future, mapping out the programs, initiatives, and projects that are critical for them to retain talent today and attract the workforce of tomorrow.

READI is expected to attract at least $2 billion of local public, private, and philanthropic match funding that will propel investment in Indiana’s quality of place, quality of life, and quality of opportunity.

Hildebrand told the commissioners the $500 million in funding will go to eligible Regional Development Authorities.  Marshall County is in the well-established Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority along with Elkhart and Saint Joseph counties.

Hildebrand said the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) gave an update a couple of weeks ago on what the program will look like in this round.  While a cap on the amount of funding a region can get hasn’t yet been determined, it is anticipated that there will be a cap this round of READI 2.0, which will fund infrastructure and capital expenditure projects.   

Hildebrand said, “Currently, we are beginning to work with South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership (SBERG) and the Regional Development Authority on getting the first ask put together.  There will be a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Strategy that they will assemble, and funds will be awarded based on that.  We won’t get into the individual project until after this first step.”

Hildebrand told the county commissioner they are looking for projects with the greatest economic development potential and there is an emphasis on rural communities this time.  The focus areas are quality of life, quality of place, and quality of opportunity.  He also said, the process of creating the application for funds is expected to be easier than that for the original READI program, which provided the Northeast Indiana region with $50 million in government money.

The timeline for when rules will be announced, and applications will be due is up in the air. That means the announcement of which communities will receive READI 2.0 funding likely won’t come until the first quarter of 2024.