SOUTHERN INDIANA — Projects in Clark and Floyd counties represent the majority of nearly $50 million in funding that will support a five-county region of southern Indiana.
Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority on Friday released details of the projects that will receive funding from the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) funding.
At its meeting on Friday, the RDA approved a revised methodology for READI funding and provided updates on the projects that will be funded and the amount that will be allocated to individual projects.
The region comprised of Clark, Floyd, Scott, Jefferson and Washington counties received $50 million in READI funding, including $47 million that will go directly to projects in the region. The remaining money goes to the RDA and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to oversee the funding process.
About $37 million will go to projects related to Clark or Floyd counties. The funding will support projects in areas such as destinations, natural assets, economic development, infrastructure and housing.
Last year, IEDC allocated $500 million in READI funding to regions across the state using federal funding from the American Rescue Plan. The RDA submitted $85 million worth of projects for its READI application, although it received the maximum amount of $50 million.
Dana Huber, president of Our Southern Indiana RDA, said determining allocations for a set of “big projects” was “not an easy task” for the board.
“We just need to be able to show the momentum that’s going forward and use those dollars that really transform our community,” she said at Friday’s meeting.
The meeting focused on revising funding allocations previously approved last month to “ensure maximum regional impact,” according to a Friday press release from the RDA.
Huber said some projects submitted in the RDA’s 2021 regional plan are no longer seeking READI funding, and other project leaders have expressed concerns about the funding amounts indicated in the methodology approved in June.
“Our intention has always been to help projects with regional impact move forward with READI funding,” Huber said in the press release. “When the RDA discovered that several projects were not likely to be completed by the 2026 deadline, it allowed us to review funding amounts and provide more funds to projects that are progressing.”
Cory Cochran, Executive Director of the River Hills Economic Development District, works with Our Southern Indiana RDA in implementing READI funding. He points out that this is only the first round of the READI program, and Governor Eric Holcomb has expressed his intention to pursue a second round of funding.
“This time next year we’re talking about having more dollars for projects that have been cut or diminished, so those will be kind of a priority for the RDA,” he said.
SOUTHERN INDIANA PROJECTS
Origin Park, a project under development by River Heritage Conservancy, received the highest amount of READI funding at $8.3 million. This is significantly less than the $17.2 million recommended for the Origin Park project in the READI plan submitted last year by the RDA.
Vern Eswine, spokesman for the River Heritage Conservancy, said: “We appreciate the RDA for receiving funding.” However, he is also disappointed to see that the project is receiving much less funding than originally planned in the RDA’s plan. He noted that Origin Park was ranked among the best regional projects by the RDA.
“We’re disappointed, but at the same time, it doesn’t make us any less excited to have $8.3 million to work with,” Eswine said.
READI funding will help River Heritage Conservancy create the planned 600-acre park along the Ohio River. The 2021 RDA plan calls for the activation of over 100 acres of degraded riparian zone in the initial phase.
Charlestown Mayor Treva Hodges was thrilled to see the city receive combined funding of $7.4 million from READI, including $5 million allocated for the construction of the city’s new wastewater treatment facility. and $2.4 to the Market Street Commons Affordable Housing Development.
“I think it shows that Charlestown is on its way to becoming a regional player,” she said.
Hodges said READI funding for the sewer infrastructure will minimize the burden on ratepayers for construction of the treatment plant. Construction of the $42 million wastewater treatment plant is expected to begin early next year.
The RDA methodology approved in June originally provided $3 million for the wastewater treatment project, and she was pleased to see the allocation restored to the $5 million recommended in the 2021 RDA plan.
“Handing over the $5 million is a game-changer for us,” Hodges said. “It makes the project more acceptable to taxpayers and less burdensome.”
The RDA also plans to fund $5 million for the North Jeffersonville Wastewater Treatment Plant in River Ridge. Like Hodges, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore was also happy to see the RDA reevaluate its allocation after asking for just $3 million last month — $5 million was the recommended amount in the 2021 RDA plan.
The city will open bids for the sewage treatment plant next Tuesday, according to Moore.
“Jeffersonville and River Ridge continue to grow, and that $5 million will be put to good use,” he said.
The $5 million will be used to increase the plant’s capacity from 3 million gallons per day to 6 million gallons per day, which is estimated by engineers to be around $38 million. Moore would like to see the plant expanded even further to accommodate 9 million gallons per day, and he is seeking an additional $15 million in state funding for the expansion.
In Floyd County, support for the Novaparke Innovation Corridor is good news for Shawn Carruthers, chairman of the Floyd County Commissioners. He is happy to see Novaparke recognized as a “regional project”, he said.
In the past month, the RDA changed the READI allocation for the project from $2 million to $4.2 million, according to Carruthers. The 2021 RDA plan recommended $5.5 million for the project.
The Novaparke Innovation & Technology Campus is being developed along Ind. 64 in Edwardsville. READI funding will support projects such as the construction of entrepreneurship and laboratory spaces in the park.
“Each project seemed to be a very good project, and we are delighted that ours was able to rise to the top to be selected for the first round of READI funding,” said Carruthers.
Nic Langford, director of redevelopment for the city of Clarksville, said READI funding of $4 million for the South Clarksville project will help Clarksville develop a downtown corridor, including building a network of streets.
“I’m happy,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, and they leaned in and made those decisions. Frankly, I think they chose the projects that have the best chance of moving forward and getting funding.
The city of Clarksville originally requested $6.8 million in the RDA plan submitted last year. The city is already in the first phase of street construction, Langford said.
“It’s very rare to build a city center from scratch on a riverfront in a major metropolitan area,” he said. “It’s going to help us create what will be a vibrant regional attraction for our region.”
The development of a veterinary education center for Hanover College and Ivy Tech Madison receives the second highest READI allocation at $5.9 million. The project aims to address the widespread shortage of veterinary professionals and support workforce development.
The South Monon Freedom Trail is another regional project receiving multi-million dollars of READI funding. The City of New Albany will receive $4.07 million, the total amount outlined in the RDA’s 2021 plan.
The funding will help the city move forward with its Rails to Trails project as it seeks to acquire the CSX Rail Corridor from New Albany to Bedford to convert it into a 68-mile trail that would ultimately connect to Ohio River Greenway.
In the coming weeks, the RDA and River Hills will work with project managers to formally submit projects to IEDC for formal approval. The individual projects will then come back to the RDA for a vote.
Once the grant agreements are signed, “that’s when the shovels can hit the ground and the dollars can be distributed,” Cochran said.
Projects should receive funding as early as August or September if they have received formal approval from IEDC, according to Cochran.
Funding can be re-committed if a deadline is missed or a project is not moving forward. READI funds can be awarded until the end of 2024 and must be spent by 2026.
“We are ready to launch these regional and generational projects,” said Huber. “We’ve been working on this process for over a year and think our project managers are as enthusiastic as we are. We are grateful for the opportunity the state and the governor have given us, and we are ready.
The next RDA meeting is scheduled for August 5 at the Clark County Government Center, located at 300 Corporate Drive in Jeffersonville.
Below is the full list of projects:
• Phase I of the original fleet: $8.3 million
• Hanover College Ivy Tech Veterinary Education Center: $5.9 million
• Star Valley Destinations (Project 1- Leisure) in Borden: $500,000
• South Monon Freedom Trail Project: $4.07 million
• Novaparke Innovation Corridor project in Floyd County: $4.2 million
• Destination Madison: $2.5 million
• Development of the South Clarksville Marathon site (phases 1, 2 and 3): $4 million
• Southern Indiana Youth Sports Complex in Scott County: $700,000
• Sellersburg Family Scholar House, Ivy Tech Community College: $1.89 million
• Jeffersonville North Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion: $5 million
• Charlestown Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades: $5 million
• Market Street Commons in Charlestown: $2.4 million
• Sellersburg/Star Valley Destination Downtown District Tourism Project: $1.5 million
• Housing on N. Shelby Street in Salem: $250,000
• Salem Municipal Airport: $253,800
• Salinda Lake Recreation Facility in Salem: $280,000
• The ONE Fund: $125,000
• Align Southern Indiana Regional Trails: $70,000