In a strategic move to strengthen economic development across the region, the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership (ECIRP) has undertaken comprehensive preparation for the upcoming READI 2.0 funding opportunity. Building on insights drawn from READI 1.0, ECIRP has diligently engaged stakeholders, conducted workshops, and refined its regional development plan to ensure a strong application for the next round of state funds.
Launched in 2021 by Governor Eric Holcomb, READI 1.0 administered $500 million in support statewide to accelerate projects furthering investments in infrastructure, job growth, and quality of life. In the inaugural round, East Central Indiana successfully secured $15 million to advance projects that contributed to the region’s economic vitality.
The lessons learned from READI 1.0 emphasized the importance of understanding regional needs and a more inclusive approach to developing a collective vision and strategies to support long term growth. ECIRP recognized that to address the diverse challenges and opportunities across the eight counties in East Central Indiana, a deeper engagement with stakeholders was essential. The need for a comprehensive perspective became evident, prompting the Partnership to embark on a series of workshops and surveys to capture a broad range of voices, concerns, and objectives.
Preparation and planning for READI 2.0 began at the beginning of the year, and over the course of the past nine months, the region has invested considerable time and effort in collecting information, engaging the public, forming strategies, and developing an updated plan. County workshops were first conducted where common themes were distilled across the region. In the next phase, regional workshops were held to engage everyone, invite participants back to discuss findings, and field questions.
Through two surveys, one targeting the general public and another focusing on youth, twelve target stakeholder sessions, and additional regional meetings to share refined goals, ECIRP engaged over 3,000 participants to shape the updated regional development plan. “The level of engagement and commitment from participants has been truly remarkable. I am thrilled with how participants have stepped up to support the process because they believe in the potential of the region,” said Trevor Friedeberg, President and CEO of the ECIRP.
During a widespread call for submissions, the Partnership received over 170 potential projects. The majority of submitted projects will be included in the regional development plan. Priority projects that align with the region’s goals and the key performance indicators set by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC)will be included in the READI 2.0 application. READI 2.0 funding is focused on capital projects that support measurable outcomes such as population growth, per-capita income growth, and educational attainment. East Central Indiana’s goals are to invest in projects that support:
- Quality of Life
- Housing and Infrastructure
- Childcare and Support for Families
- Education and Opportunity
With regional applications due to the IEDC by February 23, the IEDC review committee will consider applications and determine regional grants in April. Local projects may then be considered for funding as early as May.
“We still have work to do as we put the finishing touches on our READI 2.0 application, but I am energized and encouraged by the progress we have made working together to develop a shared vision, goals, and strategies for East Central Indiana,” said Friedeberg. “I am eager to share our final plan with the IEDC and continue to strengthen our partnership that will have a meaningful positive impact on our region for years to come!”
ECIRP’s strategic approach through various efforts aims to ensure that the region is well-positioned to leverage the READI 2.0 initiative for transformative projects that will drive economic growth and enhance the quality of life for all residents.
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. 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 in 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.