Reprinted with permission from the Vincennes Sun-Commercial newspaper

December 14, 2023

Local economic development officials continue to formulate a plan they hope will result in the capture of additional READI funds.

State officials earlier this year announced that they would dedicate another $500 million to READI 2.0, money to be doled out in April of 2024.

A local steering committee has been working with other regional representatives from the Indiana First Region to put together a strategic growth plan, Chris Pfaff, president of Knox County Indiana Economic Development, told members of the board of directors Friday morning as they met at the Elihu Stout Building, 702 Main St.

That plan, he said, will be weighed heavily by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. as they look to divvy up this next $500 million.

“The state will be looking at our overall strategy for growth in addition to specific projects,” Pfaff said.

“The projects have to support the strategy, and that’s what we’re working through now.”

Pfaff has previously explained that additional stipulations will be placed upon the kind of projects for which READI regions can apply for funds.

Applications must be limited to “only physical things,” he told the commissioners this summer, specifically infrastructure projects and “brick-and-mortar” buildings.

Program dollars will not be available as part of READI 2.0

More than $5 million was funneled into Knox County as part of Indiana First’s initial, successful READI application.

Members of the regional planning committee prioritized a handful of projects to receive the $15 million allocated to Indiana First — a partnership between Knox, Pike, Spencer, Perry and Harrison counties.

Among them were three for Knox County, including money for nurse training equipment at Good Samaritan and funds to be part of an incentive package being offered to PolyPlus, a battery manufacturer based in California.

Also funded, at least in part, was a $2.5 million project to extend sanitary sewer infrastructure from Elkhorn Road in the U.S. 41 Industrial Park over to Hart Street and beyond, preparing for what officials hope will be additional housing development in that area in coming years.

On Friday, Pfaff said he has been working with Kirk Bouchie, general manager of Vincennes Water Utilities, in making application for a U.S. Economic Development Administration grant that could help to bolster that effort.

“If successful, it would bring in $2 million for that project,” Pfaff said.

He brought it up because the KCIED board heard in its financial report that just under $100,000 had been set aside as possible match dollars for that grant.

It’s lower than what it would normally be, Pfaff explained, because they’re essentially using one pot of money to match the other.

“But that still isn’t a typical year for us with infrastructure dollars,” he said.

The state’s initial READI program last spring considered applications from 17 Indiana regions.

Among them, too, was the Wabash River Regional Development Authority, of which Vincennes University is a part. Officials with that region announced their own list of priorities for the some $20 million granted to that region.

The Wabash River RDA is a long-standing partnership in West Central Indiana, including Vigo, Parke, Sullivan, Clay, Vermillion and Knox County, specifically VU.

Included on that priority list was $2 million toward the construction of a visitors center for Grouseland, home to the 9th U.S. President and governor of the Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, as well as $100,000 for VU’s Design and Innovation Studios project, a collaboration with local elementary- and middle school-aged children to provide exposure to STEM careers.

The first round of READI funds awarded over $487 million of the initiative’s original $500 million, funds supporting 361 unique quality of place, quality of life, quality of opportunity and workforce projects and programs across all 17 Indiana READI regions.

The projects were made possible by a combined $12.2 billion of public, private and nonprofit investment.

On average, every dollar provided by the state was matched with $26 from outside entities.