The Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority has officially recommended Regional Cities Initiative funding for projects in all 11 counties in the region.
During a meeting of the board of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) today, the RDA board voted to support the Grow Wells County project, which requested funding in January for the creation of an outdoor plaza in downtown Bluffton and a pavilion/amphitheater in Ossian. Both projects will serve as crucial access points and amenities on the regional Poka-Bache Trail, connecting Northeast Indiana from Steuben County to Wells County.
The board voted to fund $423,183 for the project, representing 20 percent of the $2.1 million of the project’s total cost.
As of April 2019, the Northeast Indiana RDA has recommended more than $40 million in Regional Cities Initiative funding to the IEDC, leveraging more than $258 million in total investment in the region through a total of 24 projects.
“Recommending funding for projects in all 11 counties in Northeast Indiana is a huge accomplishment for the RDA board and the region. The spirit of regionalism is truly alive here in Northeast Indiana, and the Grow Wells County project and the leveraged funds allocated by the RDA are great examples of what we can do when we work together to grow the region’s economy and population,” said Brad Bishop, president of the Northeast Indiana RDA board and executive director at OrthoWorx.
The proposed outdoor plaza will be located next to the Wells County Courthouse in downtown Bluffton on a lot now occupied by a building damaged in a November 2011 fire. The project includes a mural, green spaces and seating in the proposed courthouse plaza, which was designed after reviewing similar spaces across the state. The pavilion/amphitheater will be built in Ossian’s Archbold Wilson Park, a 60-acre site near Ossian Elementary School. Plans for the revamped park include a trail, five acres of wildflowers, a playground, an 18-hole disc golf course and a hillside-sitting area for the amphitheater.
“With the Grow Wells County project, we want to continue to see investment in our regional communities and enhance the quality of place in Wells County. With support from the Northeast Indiana RDA, we can leverage these funds to get over the finish line and get this project completed as early as 2020,” said Michael Lautzenheiser, president of Bluffton NOW!.
About 55 percent of Regional Cities Initiative funds went to Allen County with the remaining 45 percent shared between the other 10 counties.
Chad Kline, executive director at Wells County Economic Development, said it’s important for regional communities like Wells County to be a part of this investment and momentum championed by the Northeast Indiana RDA and the Regional Cities initiative.
“Rural communities like Bluffton, Ossian and others throughout Wells County and Northeast Indiana must benefit from investment in quality of life to continue to attract and retain talent. I applaud the RDA board and the individuals behind the Grow Wells County project for securing this critical funding,” said Kline.
The next step in the funding process goes to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). The IEDC will review the funding application submitted by the Northeast Indiana RDA on behalf of Grow Wells County. If approved by the IEDC, this Wells County project will be the final county in the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s 11 counties to be awarded Regional Cities Initiative funding. Historically, the IEDC has approved each project application submitted by the Northeast Indiana RDA.
The Regional Cities Initiative was created to provide funding for quality of place projects meant to spur talent attraction and retention in regions throughout Indiana. This funding provides financial support for game-changing quality of place projects that will increase economic growth, lead to population growth and enhance the region’s national brand identity. Northeast Indiana won a Regional Cities grant of $42 million in 2015 with its Road to One Million Plan that outlines more than 70 projects and $1.5 billion in investment over the next 10 years.
To learn more about the Northeast Indiana RDA, visit the new website at www.neindiana.com/rda.
About the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s mission is to build, market and sell Northeast Indiana to increase business investment. Founded in 2006, the public-private partnership strives to build a globally competitive region. The Partnership’s Vision 2030 framework supports collaborative regional efforts to increase per capita income, population growth and educational attainment by focusing on business attraction, talent attraction and talent development. The Partnership represents 11 member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley. For more information, visit www.neindiana.com.