Reprinted with permission from the Vincennes Sun-Commercial newspaper

August 6, 2022

More than $5 million will likely be funneled into Knox County as part of Indiana First’s successful READI application, Chris Pfaff, president of Knox County Indiana Economic Development, announced to members of the organization’s board of directors Friday.

After months of toiling, Pfaff said members of a regional planning committee have narrowed the scope of their application, prioritizing a handful of projects to receive the $15 million allocated to Indiana First — a partnership between Knox, Pike, Spencer, Perry, and Harrison counties — as part of the state’s READI program.

Among them are three for Knox County, including money to bolster a multi-family housing development planned for the city’s east side, money for nurse training equipment at Good Samaritan, and funds to entice a major battery manufacturer.

Combined, Pfaff said these three projects equate to a $5.6 million investment from READI alone.

“And there will be various ways we match that on a local level,” he told board members as they met at Vincennes University’s Learning Resource Center. “That will leverage four times that amount, perhaps more, in private investment.

“So it’s pretty significant, as far as state grants go. It’s one of the largest, if not the largest, programs this region, this county, has ever seen.”

Officials with Knox County Indiana Economic Development last year partnered with local elected officials as well as the Vincennes Redevelopment Commission in commissioning a housing study, one that identified several gaps in the local market, everything from single- to multi-family homes.

The RDC has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars so far in infrastructure costs and is looking at the creation of a residential-specific Tax Increment Finance Zone to generate revenue to do even more.

Pfaff indicated long ago that much of Indiana First’s funds would likely go to a similar cause — incentivizing developers to build homes as much of Indiana is in the midst of a housing crisis.

These particular funds prioritized by Indiana First, Pfaff said on Friday, will go specifically to fund sewer improvements to a multi-family housing complex planned for the city’s east side, although he said he isn’t yet prepared to identify the developer or provide any other details about the project.

Other funds will go to a nursing careers program at Good Samaritan, Pfaff said, particularly toward the purchase of simulation equipment.

Good Samaritan CEO Rob McLin wasn’t immediately available for comment Friday, but Pfaff said this money would allow the hospital to double the capacity of its nursing simulation labs, thereby “attracting additional nursing candidates throughout the region.”

“It should allow them to be more competitive in this space,” Pfaff said.

The third project is, perhaps, the one about which local officials are saying the least — only that funds have been prioritized to bolster the incentive package being offered to PolyPlus, a battery manufacturer based in California.

PolyPlus, which reportedly has received federal grants to pursue the development of new battery technology, has been eyeing a facility in Knox County now for years, and this money, Pfaff indicated, is likely to help county officials to close the deal.

“It all looks very promising,” he said.