READI FAQs for South Bend – Elkhart Regional Award
What is the purpose of READI?
Indiana and its regional communities had an opportunity to accelerate economic resilience and growth and become magnets for the talent Hoosier businesses need to thrive. By developing a collaborative, long-term plan for growth, regional communities throughout the state built a game plan to invest in their future growth and prosperity, deliberately and thoughtfully. At its core, the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) is about population growth.
How is the initiative being funded?
Indiana READI, which was first announced by Governor Eric J. Holcomb in his 2021 State of the State address and then enacted in legislation by the Indiana General Assembly, dedicated $50 million of the $500 million total to the South Bend – Elkhart region. For READI funding, this region is inclusive of Elkhart, Marshall, and St. Joseph counties. Though the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was identified as the funding source when the READI program was created, the exact compliance required was not known until the U.S. Department of Treasury released the final rules in January 2022.
How did the South Bend – Elkhart Region come up with its plan?
Regions were required to submit a regional development plan (RDP) to the IEDC for consideration of receiving a regional READI award. The South Bend – Elkhart region’s RDP was not created overnight, nor as a reactionary response to the READI funding announcement. The community vision and strategies laid out in the plan are the culmination of thoughtful planning process that began in 2016 and was refreshed in 2021, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan executes on the region’s vision to be the talent and economic region of choice in the Midwest by gaining resources that increase the size and capacity of the talent pool and enhance the quality of place. The RDP is built on the work of public and private entities throughout the three Indiana counties in our region.
Who is the Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority?
The Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) is a separate corporate and political body that was formed in 2015 to apply for and then distribute the $42 million award of Regional Cities Initiative funding to spur investment in quality-of-life projects for Elkhart, Marshall, and St. Joseph counties and the municipalities within the region. A five-member board experienced in transportation, regional economic development, business, and finance was appointed by the Mayors and Commissioners of the member counties and the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership was engaged to administer the work on behalf of the board. If a region has an established RDA, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) asked the RDA to be the applicant and fiscal agent of READI funding.
Why is the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership involved?
As the only regional economic development organization in the three counties, the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership was engaged to administer the regional work on behalf of the RDA.
What is the timeline for the initiative?
ARPA guidelines state the funding must be expended or obligated by December 31, 2024, and must be spent by December 31, 2026. The RDA allocated all funding in 2022 for projects and programs that will be complete on or before December 31, 2026.
How is the funding being allocated?
At the regional level, the RDA awarded projects and programs to receive funding, followed by ratification of approved projects from the IEDC. Projects and programs receive funding via a drawdown/disbursement process once IEDC approval has been secured.
What is the process for awarding READI funding in the South Bend – Elkhart region?
Quality of place capital projects were awarded through a public Request for Proposal (RFP) process that concluded in September 2022. More than 50 high-quality and impactful projects were submitted for consideration, and despite our region winning the maximum grant amount from the state, the total requested funds were over three times the amount of funds available to allocate.
Program funding decisions were informed by the committee structure of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. Selected program operators were invited to apply through a competitive LOI process. The RDA allocated all its remaining READI funding to 11 programs in December 2022.
How is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion being considered within the plan and awardees?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is fundamental to our region’s plan. Strategies are being implemented within our local businesses, community, and economic development organizations, and especially within the Smart Connected Communities 2030 plan, to directly address DEI inequalities. A couple of specific ways that will be noticeable within our RDP and to projects or programs receiving a READI award are: (1) the ARPA program gives preference to projects that are located within Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) which were identified by the Federal Government as being disproportionately affected by the pandemic; (2) All programs will be responsible for tracking demographic data as a part of their KPIs; and (3) all programs clearly demonstrate intentionality through equitable approaches to programmatic outreach, outcomes, and engagement.
What is the IEDC pre-submission checklist?
The pre-submission checklist allows regions to understand what project or program compliance is needed for the overall READI effort. The expectation is that projects or programs selected to receive funding will meet the guidelines outlined in the pre-submission checklist.
Is there a funding match expectation?
Yes, the IEDC expects regions to attract a minimum 4:1 match. This includes a required 1:1 match from local public funding and a recommended 3:1 match from private and philanthropic sources. Public funding may, as appropriate, include private non-profit economic development organizations and foundations. Individual programs and projects may vary in their ratio of public and private funding, as long as the region maintains an overall ratio of at least 1:1 READI to public match.
Isn’t READI supposed to be Regional Cities 2.0?
No, they are separate programs and because of the different funding sources (Federal vs. State) there are different compliance requirements. READI should not be thought of as Regional Cities 2.0.
Who received funding?
You can see a listing of all project and program awards on the READI page.
How do I learn more?
All updates are posted to https://southbendelkhart.org/regional-collaboration/get-readi/