Plans for Regional Cities move forward

The Regional Development Authority is moving forward with their Regional Cities plans following last week’s passing of the bill.

Thursday was the committee’s first public board meeting since Governor Mike Pence signed the bill that awards local projects $42 million.

“Once we got that it’s exciting to be able to move forward. We’ve been initiating this since November of 2014 and submitted our application last fall so it was fabulous news,” said RDA Vice Chair Regina Emberton.

Although Gov. Pence’s signature secured the money, there’s still a lot that needs to be finalized.

The money is slated to partially fund 39 projects in our area but the grant money can only account for 20 percent of each project’s funding.

The remaining 80 percent needs to be provided by private and local funding.

“We would like for them to demonstrate that they have the funding commitment match but they also meet the other criteria having to do with the regional impact,” said Emberton.

At the meeting, held at Bethel College, the RDA decided in the summer they will evaluate each project’s progress. While they don’t have specific requirements, the board wants to make sure the effort is there.

“In the fall of 2017 if we haven’t dispersed all the funds into projects in the regional development plan there may be an opportunity for substitute or replacement projects,” said Emberton.

Although considering an alternative project may be necessary if one doesn’t pan out, Emberton says nixing a current project isn’t something they’re planning on.

“We’re a resource to all of the projects and really want to help them move forward in any way we can whether that’s funding or stewarding them along the way,” said Emberton.

The board plans to evaluate the progress at their next public board meeting on June 9.

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