The Journal Gazette
Friday, December 03, 2021 2:44 pm

Northeast Indiana grant proposal presented

State decision expected later this month

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority pitched its “Growing With Vision” strategy Friday -- hoping to win a $50 million grant from a new state economic development program.

The presenters focused on the three pillars of the plan as well as an emphasis on investing in southeast Fort Wayne.

“Northeast Indiana has transformative plans to accelerate economic growth and keep our jobs and talent,” said James Khan, president and founder of ObiCai Restaurant Management and a local regional development authority board member.

Seventeen regions representing all of Indiana's 92 counties are seeking funding for $1 billion -- twice the amount of money the state plans to give -- for initiatives to support economic development, quality of life and related projects.

The budget for the Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative project is $500 million, with the maximum expected for any one region of $50 million.

All the regions gave presentations during three days this week in Indianapolis, and a decision is expected later this month.

Northeast Indiana submitted a 308-page proposal covering 130 projects in 11 counties that would require $129 million in funding. Six regional experts gave a 30-minute presentation Friday before taking questions from board and staff of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

The three key strategies are workforce growth, entrepreneurship and innovation and downtown vibrancy.

A state staffer asked why southeast Fort Wayne was important to the plan. A few of the projects in that area including building and operating a full-service grocery store because of it being classified a food desert, and construction of a mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhood on 20 acres of city-owned property in the area.

Ryan Twiss -- vice president of regional initiatives at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership -- said the region has economic inequity. Some census tracts are approaching 9% unemployment and the area has lower educational attainment.

He said investing in that area is a way to move up the ladder quickly in improving per capita personal income.

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