The Northwest Indiana Forum, a Portage-based economic development agency, is applying for $52 million worth of grants for various projects across the Region.

The privately funded agency, which pursues jobs and investment for Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Starke, Jasper, Newton and Pulaski counties, seeks state funding for 36 projects intendend to drive economic growth and help bring more workers and businesses to Northwest Indiana.

The Northwest Indiana Forum hopes to tap the state's new 2021 Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant program, which dedicates $500 million "to promote strategic investments that will make Indiana a magnet for talent and economic growth."

Regions throughout the state can apply for state funding for projects, initiatives and programs that aim to attract and retain an educated and talented workforce. The idea is to draw people who will in turn draw companies and job opportunities by investing in the quality of place and quality of life.

The state expects its investment of up to $500 million will spur $2 billion worth of public, private and philanthropic match funds.

The NWI Forum is asking for funding for 36 projects and consideration for 103 projects valued at more than $2 billion. It identified projects that align with its "Ignite the Region" study pillars of infrastructure, placemaking, entrepreneurship and innovation, talent and business development and marketing.

The NWI Forum's submissions will compete with proposals from local officials across the Hoosier State seeking a piece of the $500 million grant funding pie.

“Our group including business leaders, local economic development professionals and workforce development worked tirelessly over the past six months to identify projects that would move our region forward over the next decade and beyond,” Northwest Indiana Forum President and CEO Heather Ennis said.
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