Accelerate Rural Indiana was one of six regions to present its READI proposal to the Indiana Economic Development Commission Monday afternoon.

Shelbyville, Batesville, Greensburg, Shelby County, Rush County and Decatur County officials boarded a bus (literally) to Indianapolis to request more than $50 million from the IEDC as part of the corporation’s Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI).

The proposal focuses on increasing housing and quality of life for residents in these counties.

The total investment cost in this plan is $866 million, however the region already secured $760 million in private investment. This means the region has a 15:1 ratio of private-to-public funding over the next five years.

For Shelbyville/Shelby County specifically, the proposal includes building a new Early Learning Center in town and a huge investment in infrastructure.

“These projects give additional opportunities to our residents,” said Mayor Tom DeBaun.

In terms of infrastructure, the proposal includes funding for upgrading roads and broadband in the Pleasant View Commerce Park, where Five Below Inc. and several other businesses are/will be located, and upgrades on Tom Hession Drive, near the POET facility.

Shelby County Development Corp. Executive Director Brian Asher told the IDEC that 1,000 acres near the biorefinery had just been annexed into Shelbyville and would soon be rezoned for industrial use.

Other infrastructure projects along the 47-mile stretch of Interstate 74 encompassing the region include an infrastructure study near the St. Paul exit, where Accelerate Rural Indiana seeks to benefit all three counties by rezoning more than 800 acres for housing, commercial and industrial use; and building a Business Enterprise Park in Greensburg.

The Business Enterprise Park consists of more than 550 acres near the Honda plant in Greensburg. Asher said the region hopes this area would allow other big businesses to “piggy back off Honda” and create growth in the area.

The total infrastructure investment is $484 million, which encompasses these projects and more than 2,600 acres.

Other improvements include 13 housing projects, a $298 million investment with the potential to create 1,100 housing units and increase the population by 2,600 people, or 2.7 percent. Two of these projects will be near Morristown and Manilla.

Rush County Economic and Community Development Corp. Executive Director John McCane said the region focused on connectivity with this plan to create “positive and dynamic change.”

“An increased population builds opportunity and our workforce,” he said. Housing “truly is the special sauce.”

Batesville Mayor Mike Bettice said the proposal also includes 14 attraction projects, a $72 million investment.

Four of these projects are a Kid’s Discovery Factory in Batesville, a children’s museum that focuses on steam power; a Rush County Community Center; the creation of Pirate Park in Greensburg and improvement of other Greensburg parks and trails; and the previously mentioned Shelbyville/Shelby County Early learning Center.

“This is 47 miles of opportunity we are excited to be a part of,” said Greensburg Mayor Joshua Marsh.

Greensburg/Decatur County Economic Development Corp. Director Bryan Robbins added the region has seven projects focused solely on developing the workforce in the area.

The $7 million investment includes the creation of a post-secondary trade school in the region and creation of a micro business park in Rushville.

Following the presentation, the IEDC asked questions about how these towns/counties formed this region.

DeBaun said Shelbyville had the opportunity to join the Indianapolis Metro Region, but instead chose to partner with Rushville and Greensburg because the communities are similar in size and culture.

“We thought we’d get a better opportunity forming a smaller group,” he said.

One IEDC member pointed out the proposal highlights a “domino effect” – if the infrastructure is built, businesses will come – and asked what kind of demand the region has seen from outside of it.

Asher said Shelby County alone has seen a huge interest in the Pleasant View Commerce Park and the “casino exit,” or Exit 109 near Indiana Grand Racing and Casino.

“It’s going to get gobbled up as soon as the infrastructure is there,” he said.

Robbins added that Diamond Pet Foods just announced a commitment to build in Rushville.

Diamond Pet Foods names Rushville as preferred site for its next manufacturing facility; State-of-the-art plant will create more than 170 jobs.

The IEDC will finalize its funding decisions in December.

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