READI projects to be selected in March

·2 min read

Dec. 28—Officials in Howard, Miami and Tipton counties should know which projects will get funded by the $30 million awarded through the state's READI program by the end of March.

Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman said the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) will meet with officials in February to go through the region's READI grant proposals to determine which will receive funding.

Twenty-seven projects in total were submitted by the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council (NCIRPC), which is made up of Howard, Tipton, Miami, Cass, Clinton and Fulton counties.

Wyman said the IDEC's goal is to have all the agreements in place for the selected projects by the end of March. The READI money should start being released sometime between April and June.

"Things will start coming along at a pretty fast-tracked pace for some of the projects in our proposal," he told the Howard County Council last week.

Wyman said the NCIRPC has created a new advisory committee to oversee the grant program. The group will also hire someone next year to be solely dedicated to overseeing and implementing the READI grant funding to the various projects.

"I think this will make a big difference in the success of our implementation," he said. " ... You can imagine the amount of work that will go into each project."

Once the money is disbursed, the counties will have around three years to implement the selected projects, Wyman said.

Projects being considered for funding in Howard County include the new downtown hotel and conference center, the industrial park and transforming the Douglass School building into a regional cultural center.

In Miami County, projects include the riverfront development and infrastructure upgrades on North Broadway to attract new developments, such as a hotel, hospital campus, commercial district and 85 new homes.

Wyman said that the region — which is mostly rural, excluding Kokomo — receiving $30 million is a testament to the strength of the projects and the growth of the area.

"Our region really got put on the radar by the state and really opened up this opportunity for us to say, 'Here we are. This is what we're doing in our region,'" he said. "Yes, we're a small, rural, north central Indiana region, but there's some pretty powerful stuff happening here."

Wyman said the $30 million in READI money will likely generate around $300 million in private sector investment in the region. He said that however the money is divvied up among the various projects, the funding is sure to have major economic impact on in the area.

"It's a pretty incredible number, and I truly believe it will be transformative for our region," he said.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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