READI FAQs for South Bend – Elkhart Regional Award
What is the purpose of READI?
Indiana and its regional communities have 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 will have 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, will dedicate $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) for consideration of READI funding. 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 will execute 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 South Bend – Elkhart Regional Development Authority?
The South Bend – Elkhart 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 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 South Bend – Elkhart region’s timeline is broken into a four-step process.
- May 2022 – Dec. 2022: Step 1 Regional Evaluation
- June 2022 – June 2023: Step 2 Collaboration & Review
- Sept. 2022 – Dec. 2024: Step 3 Approval and Submission Approval until…
- Dec. 2026: Step 4 Award
A summary of the timeline can be found here.
Who will be making the decision to commit funding?
At the regional level, the RDA will approve projects to receive funding, followed by ratification of approved projects from the IEDC. Funding is approved in Step 3.
If I submitted a project or program for the region’s READI state application process in summer 2021, does that mean I receive READI funding?
No, projects or programs previously submitted are not guaranteed a READI award. Over $174 million in requests were listed in the state application document the region submitted.
What is the process for awarding READI funding in the South Bend – Elkhart region?
Quality of place capital projects will be awarded through a public Request for Proposal (RFP) process. That process and timeline will be posted here. Program funding will be led through the committee structure of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership.
How is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion being considered within the plan and projects?
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, including our highlighted READI programs 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) clearly demonstrate intentionality through equitable approaches to programmatic outreach, outcomes, and engagement.
What is the pre-submission checklist in Step 2?
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 move forward after a regional evaluation in Step 1 will be able to meet the guidelines outlined in the pre-submission checklist during Step 2.
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.
What happens if I do not receive READI funding?
Outside of the READI award, the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership will continue to coordinate with projects not moving forward in Step 1 as part of its regional economic development work plan through its staff team.
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.
How does the 4:1 READI match work?
The match requirement is intended by Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to show that state investments are leveraging local public and private support for projects.
The 4:1 match requirement occurs at the regional level, across the portfolio of projects that the Regional Development Authority (RDA) will ultimately award. This includes a required 1:1 match from local public funding and a recommended 3:1 match from private and philanthropic sources.
For illustration purposes, imagine a project is $100 total. The project seeks 20 percent of the project costs to be covered with a READI award. This would yield $20. The 1:1 public match means another $20 would come from public source(s). It is recommended that the remaining 3:1 come from private or philanthropic sources, which reflects the remaining $60.
Does my project need to have 20 percent public match exactly?
No. Any single project applicant’s ratio of READI award, public match, and private or philanthropic dollars may vary. A project could seek less than 20 percent READI award, for example. A project could have more than 20 percent public match, for example. The RDA encourages applicants to discuss specific financing questions directly with South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership staff, prior to project submission.
Why does the RFP FAQ say that the 1:1 match is required and the 3:1 match is recommended?
The IEDC requires that the region have no less than 1:1 match between the READI award and the region’s projects at the portfolio level. The reason the word “recommended” is used for the 3:1 is that the totality of the projects awarded in the portfolio could have more than 20 percent of their financing from public source(s), so then less of the rest of the 100 percent is private/philanthropic.
The 1:1 match requirement ensures that there is public support for the region’s projects.
How is the RDA or IEDC defining "public" dollars?
Public dollars come from publicly funded sources. Since these are regional awards from IEDC to regions, the RDA and IEDC expect applicants to secure public dollars within their region. State and federal funding sources that flow down to municipal, county or city levels and are publicly controlled can be considered public match dollars.
Which kind of SAM.gov registration does my organization need to have?
Projects that receive a READI award from the RDA need to secure a SAM.gov registration for their entity. Having a Unique Entity ID is not enough.
A SAM.gov registration is not required or expected for project grant applications to the RDA.
However, since SAM.gov registrations can take weeks to process by the federal government, the Regional Partnership recommends that applicants consider registering.
The process for entity registrations includes getting the Unique Entity ID and requires assertions, representations and certifications, and other information about your business or organization.
Registration is free and can be done on the official government website SAM.gov. The SAM.gov website contains extensive information about how to register and the documentation required.
Click here to learn more.
Quality of Place Application Questions
I did not attend an education session in June. Can my project still apply?
No. Attendance by at least one project team member is a prerequisite to applying.
I started and saved an application in the online platform. When I log back in, the application looks different on the screen. Why?
The online application is built on the Salesforce software platform. Each application is essentially a record with various fields, so the project application reverts to that visual format once saved. No submission fields change, even if the layout, labeling, and order is slightly different.
Where is the budget template described in the RFP document?
A budget template is no longer provided or required. South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership staff realized the online submission form already captured the expected information.
What kinds of partners is the RDA expecting my project to have?
Partners represent any organization or entity whose constituents will benefit from the quality of place amenity coming into existence. Partners can be units of government, nonprofit organizations, school districts, private employers, or any kind of organization.
Must my project have three partners?
No. At least one partner must be provided. The submission form is built to capture details of up to three partners. Your project may list more in the narrative text box.
Must we provide letters of support for every partner listed or named in our project's application?
No. Letters of support are purely optional.
How does a project decide which ARPA category to choose in the submission form?
Project applicants must provide a response to this question. Specific details on each ARPA category are provided in the IEDC Pre-Submission Checklist. After a project is awarded, Ernst & Young (EY) and the IEDC will determine specifically the correct category. The submission question is meant to provide an initial idea to EY and IEDC.
When is the deadline for submission?
Project applications that meet the RFP award process that are submitted in the online form on or before August 15th will be considered at the RDA board meeting in September. Depending on the quality of the projects and the total amount awarded, the RDA may consider additional applications in Q4 2022 at the December board meeting.
How do I learn more?
All updates are posted here.