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READI grant proposals being reviewed

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:13 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - A transformational future is taking shape in north central Indiana.

The state is offering up to $50 million in matching grant money to make big things happen here.

The projects must be transformational in an attempt to grow Indiana’s population and to attract and retain workforce talent.

Sunday marked the deadline for submitting READI grant proposals for the regional partnership covering St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Marshall Counties.

A total of 177 proposals were received. “It is a lot, and it is more than I expected, but it’s great. It just shows the amount of community engagement in the process,” said Regina Emberton with the South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership.

In 2015, the state offered a similar grant program—offering $42 million in matching grant money that funded 27 projects including a new Aquatic Center in Elkhart, and new apartment building projects in South Bend, Mishawaka, Elkhart, Plymouth, and Culver.

The last round of state transformation grants funded brick and mortar projects exclusively.  This time, half the money is aimed at people and programs designed to attract or keep them in the region as talented members of the workforce.

“An example of projects could be an accelerator focused on federal research grants that help companies start-up, be able to launch in an innovative area,” Emberton explained.

Another example involves trying to reach out to foreign visitors to the area.  “So, we have a lot of people who are moving here to go to school, or coming for a job, but how do we help support them in staying in the region and actually going through the immigration process?”

The process of sifting through the proposals has begun. It would take about $300 million in available grant money to fund them all. Under the READI program, the state is offering up to $50 million to the northcentral region.

“There cannot be too much done to improve the quality of life in this region. It can only get better and better,” Emberton said.

At this point, details of the new brick and mortar proposals are not being released, other than to say they involve housing development, entertainment venues, as well as park and trail projects.

Emberton did confirm that one of the brick-and-mortar projects involves a proposed amateur sports complex in Mishawaka, and another involves plans to build a dinosaur museum on land near State Road 2 and the bypass.

The state grant money can be used to fund up to 20-percent of a proposed project.

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