South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership gets ready to spend READI funds

NOW: South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership gets ready to spend READI funds

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Every region in Indiana is waiting to spend its portion of the half a billion dollars from Indiana’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grants.

Last year, the state appropriated all 17 regions across Indiana a portion of the $500 million.

Bethany Hartley, the Chief Strategy Officer with South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, tells ABC57 it’s a “huge opportunity” to boost local economies. South Bend-Elkhart is one of the five regions awarded the maximum $50 million grant from the READI fund.

While the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership’s application for READI funds included 170 potential projects like development along the Mishawaka Riverwalk, a technology lab at The University of Notre Dame, and broadband expansion in Bremen, it’s still up in the air as to what the money will go to.

“We made no commitments that any [projects] that were included [in the proposal] will be funded, and that any that were not included will not be funded,” Hartley said.

Instead, The Partnership expects to release a Request For Proposals (RFP) in the second half of the year for projects to be considered for READI funds. Hartley said the partnership will prioritize projects advancing the region’s economic development strategy; which focuses on entrepreneurship, talent development and attraction, as well as quality of place and quality of life.

“How do we drive more talent to want to stay in this region and get more talent to come to this region,” Hartley said.

Since the READI grants are funded through the American Rescue Plan, projects applying for funds will have to meet specific federal guidelines. Programs will also be under consideration, not just physical development. Hartley said The Partnership is still working with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IDEC) to make sure it’s putting out an accurate RFP that’s clear and easy to understand.

The South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership expects to start awarding funds “in some form or fashion” before the end of the year.


Check out The Partnership's full READI proposal here


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