180 Alliance presents vision for six-county area – Yahoo News

Dec. 7—Six counties who make up the 180 Alliance presented a plan to capture a portion of a half billion dollars in economic development money granted by the state. The newly formed region of Boone, Hendricks, Johnson, Montgomery, Morgan and Putnam counties recently presented their vision in front of the committee tasked with doling out the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative or READI grants.
The plan includes more than 30 projects. The most a region can get is $50 million but that must be matched with contributions from municipalities or private corporations. Some examples of the projects are to revitalize the downtown areas of Whitestown, Martinsville and Greencastle; expanding outdoor amenities such as a trail along Sugar Creek in Montgomery County for more canoe launches; completing a performing arts center in Plainfield; renovating the Ashley Square Cinema in Greencastle; helping with the proposed Lebanon Fieldhouse at Interstate 65 and Ind. 39; and expanding a Johnson County Employment Resource Network to cover the counties.
There are 17 other regions formed in the state.
The cost for all the projects is $884 million and would be inclusive of READI grants as well as local government and private investment matches, Boone Economic Development Director Molly Whitehead said of the proposal.
The Indiana Legislature set aside a half billion dollars in COVID relief funds from the federal government for the program which Senator Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville, said could be a game changer in some parts of Indiana.
"I think we have a problem in Indiana attracting people to come and live and work," Boots said in an interview earlier this year. "The (Indiana Economic Development Corporation) is doing a great job of attracting jobs to the state of Indiana, but we don't have the people to fill them often times."
The 180 Alliance, so named because it partially surrounds the Indianapolis area, includes three of the four fastest growing counties in the state. The whole area has seen a 22% growth, according to the 2020 Census. The projects in the plan are included to enhance the quality of life in the area.
There are also housing issues specific to the area. One project in Avon would create a retirement community for seniors looking to downsize which would open up single-family housing. Another proposal is infrastructure projects that would make more lots available for new homes.
The regions had to form by the end of August. Proposals for the grants had to be submitted by Halloween. So some of the alliance proposal is short on specific details. Whitehead said there are several factors that the alliance doesn't know when any awards would have to be spent.
"In addition to that, we have a pretty sizeable list of future projects," Whitehead said after the presentation. "Depending on what happens, for instance, if there is a READI 2.0."
Another factor is that the committee, which is formed through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, could decide to fund certain projects.
"The grants were up to $50 million," Whitehead added. "So they could split it up as they see fit."
According to the IEDC website, grants will be named later this month.
The plan and its projects are available for viewing at 180alliance.org. More information and each region's presentation are available at iedc.in.gov.
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