The region that includes Jay County, along with every other applicant, was selected to be part of a new state program.

What that will mean for Jay County is yet unclear.

East Central Indiana Regional Partnership was awarded $15 million in funding through by Indiana Economic Development Corporation the state’s new Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI). It was part a total in $500 million awarded to 17 regions across the state representing all 92 counties.

“I’m grateful for the $15 million,” said Travis Richards, executive director of Jay County Development Corporation, following the announcement of the funding awards. “I think the approach was good to try to use the federal dollars to leverage local public and private dollars. … And I was pleased that we were selected to be one of the awarded regions.”

Richards said the regional group plans to have a steering team with representatives from each county to decide how to allocate the funds within the rules set up by the state.

He added that during its internal scoring process, East Central Indiana Regional Partnership settled on catalyst issues such as housing, broadband, workforce development and connectivity through trails. Projects in the proposal that had a regional focus also included support for the East Central Indiana Talent Collaborative, entrepreneurship, vocational training, developing the workforce for the healthcare and technology sectors, and improving marketing and engagement.

Along with Jay County, East Central Indiana Regional Partnership includes Blackford, Delaware, Fayette, Grant, Henry, Randolph and Wayne counties. A press release from the partnership this week indicated that the funds “will help support regional redevelopment projects such as housing, broadband, education, wellness, workforce training as well as connectivity and recreation initiatives across the eight county area.”

“The $15 million award will propel our plan forward and we're eager to start implementation,” said partnership board chair Ashley Savieo, who works for Indiana Michigan Power.

“This is a good day for East Central Indiana. Thank you to the IEDC for the partnership.”

(Those funds must be matched by contributions from local government units and private investment.)

Northeast, which includes Adams and Wells counties, received $50 million — the highest amount awarded. Other regions receiving $50 million were South Bend, Northwest Indiana, Southwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (the Evansville area) and Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority (Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott and Washington counties).

No additional information was provided about the scoring process for the applications, priority projects or how and when the funds will be distributed. That information is expected to become available beginning in early 2022.

Two of the projects featured in the East Central Indiana application for READI were the Jay County 4-H Capital Campaign and the rehabilitation of the Salamonia Schoolhouse Community Center and Park.

Other Jay County-focused projects that are part of the regional development plan include construction of a new home for Jay County Humane Society, improvements at Dunkirk Public Library, funding for a Jay-Blackford Healthcare Council Medical Training Facility, infrastructure and improvements for Hall-Moser Theatre in the Performing Arts Center at the Jay County Campus of Arts Place, an expanded walking track at Jay Community Center, new trails, improvements to recreational sites and infrastructure to support new housing.

Initially, the legislature dedicated $150 million toward the program. That was increased to $500 million in April as the state budget was bolstered by $3 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding.