SOUTHERN INDIANA — Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) heard promising feedback from the state for READI projects at its Friday meeting.

The RDA is still finalizing the grant agreement, according to Cory Cochran, execut ive director of River Hills Economic Development District Regional Planning Commission.

RDA is working with River Hills on implementing the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) program funds.

The draft of the grant agreement states that IEDC, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, is expecting all grant funds to be obligated by the summer of 2023.

While the READI funds do not have to be spent until 2026, the RDA has until next year to have the money allocated toward each project.

The region, which includes Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott and Washington counties, received $50 million total. Cochran said that 6% of the $50 million will be used for grant administrative services — 3% for the RDA and 3% for IEDC.

“The RDA only has $47 million to spend on projects with the READI dollars,” Cochran said.

Cochran said that once the final grant agreement is received and reviewed again, it will be shared with the RDA. He said they may have to call a special meeting for the RDA to approve and sign off on the agreement.

After the agreement is approved by IEDC, the RDA will have the legal authority to begin approving projects.

River Hills has not been told a date when they will receive the final grant agreement, but Cochran said they are hopeful they will get it in the next couple of days.

Of the 19 projects from the original regional development plan that River Hills has met with, Cochran said that they are all active.

IEDC has given verbal confirmation that the 19 projects are good and could potentially move forward.

“Overall there are a few projects that are absolutely green light, and when I say green light that means that IEDC has reviewed their sources and uses, has reviewed their plan, their project and they’re good to go,” Cochran said.

The rest of the projects were yellow light, meaning IEDC questions, concerns and or suggestions regarding the plan, funding sources, etc. River Hills is working with these projects on a daily basis to get updates and advise them on getting to a green light.

Cochran said that there were no projects that received a red light.

Though the projects have been verbally commended by IEDC, Cochran emphasized that there has not been official approvals for any projects yet.

IEDC has spoken highly of the RDA, which Cochran said is important since Gov. Eric Holcomb is considering the implementation of a READI 2.0.

“During a budget session next year, he is hopeful he has some state dollars to put towards READI 2.0,” Cochran said.

With this possibility, IEDC gave a verbal sense of urgency to push projects forward and get them started this summer.

Another topic at the meeting was the funding gap in projects. The region submitted $85 million worth of projects to the state, so while the RDA got the highest allocation, there is a gap of about $35 million, or $38 million after administrative services.

“I think it’s important for us to consider moving forward the projects that we approve, and doing this right we are hopeful that we may receive further state dollars in READI 2.0 if it comes together,” Cochran said.

The next RDA meeting will be at the Washington County Courthouse on June 3.
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