Tolson Center benefits from READI grant, next round to begin

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 6:28 PM EST
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ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) - Communities in northern Indiana are still working to spend money from the last round of READI grants, while preparing to compete in the next round.

In 13 days, the doors will open to a new Tolson Center in Elkhart that is twice the size of the old one. It’s another example of a northern Indiana project that was funded in part by a state READI grant ($2.6 million).

The grants target transformational projects that improve the quality of life in the hopes of increasing the population.

“A center like the Tolson can definitely transform lives,” Tolson Executive Director Breeana Allen told 16 News Now.

The new facility will open on Nov. 30 and feature two gyms, a dance studio, and a community room with a commercial kitchen.

The city defunded the Tolson Center in 2018 and handed the reigns over to a nonprofit.

Meantime, at a sold-out workshop in South Bend this morning, community members discussed what could be done for an encore.

“Well, one of the big dreams is to see if we can get the Amtrak station back downtown,” said Tim Corcoran, South Bend’s director of planning and community resources. “I think it would be a great asset to downtown.”

When it comes to winning the grants, the northern region has had a pretty good track record, and it has a strong incentive to keep the streak going.

“They raised the ceiling from $50 million per region to $75 million per region. We have that opportunity. The full bucket for the state is $500 million, so not every region is going to get that $75, but we feel pretty bullish and bold about our past track record READI dot oh, Regional Cities, that we have something that we can keep building on and keep the momentum going,” said Bethany Hartley, CEO of South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership.

“Philosophically, we want this to be a place where people want to come to live. It’s about population growth, it’s about quality of place, and those are the things we focus on day in and day out as we’re reviewing projects, and reviewing the impact they can have here in our local community,” said Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority board member Tim Sexton.