MARTINSVILLE — The city of Martinsville is looking to partner with several nearby communities as well as Morgan and Johnson counties in an attempt to obtain Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grants from the state government.

At its meeting Monday night, the Martinsville City Council approved moving forward with the initiative.

Patrick O'Neill, with HWC Engineering, said that the READI program is an economic development-minded project that came from a $500 million appropriation approved by the Indiana General Assembly this year.

That money is being administered through the Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC).

"The READI program is hyper-focused on growing population — attracting, development and retaining workforce — particularly through quality of place movements," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said that cities and counties get to set up their own regions, with a minimum of two counties per area.

According to the IEDC's website, READI will help promote development in the state of Indiana.

"Through this initiative, the state will encourage neighboring counties, cities and tows to partner to create a shared vision for their future, mapping out the programs, initiatives and projects that are critical for them to retain talent today and attract the workforce of tomorrow," IEDC's website notes.

For this specific request presented Monday night, Morgan and Johnson counties — as well as some of the municipalities within the two counties — are looking to partner up.

O'Neill said that the region would have to submit information to the state by Thursday, July 1.

"After that process takes place, IEDC has mentioned that they will kind of look at all of the regions and have some conversations that may require some reshuffling of regions," O'Neill noted.

Then, the regions will be asked to put together a regional development plan — which is due to the state by the end of August.

If approved by the state, each region would qualify for up to $50 million in funding and a possible additional $50,000 for a planning grant.

Councilman Phil Deckard II asked what region the city of Martinsville will be located.

According to Martinsville Mayor Kenny Costin, the city is looking to partner with both Morgan and Johnson county governments, Mooresville and Bargersville.

These communities have a regional interest due to the ongoing I-69 Finish Line project.

Costin also noted that the city would have to match any of the funds given to it through the READI grants, which would allow the city to double its money on potential projects.

"If it is just us and Johnson County, Bargersville and Mooresville, we may not get the full $50 million," Costin said. "But anything we get would be better than what we have."

O'Neill said that many of the proposed regions working together have historic ties, while others are new to working together.

"Johnson and Morgan would be a brand new region," O'Neill said. "I think the emphasis is really on storytelling and really emphasizing why you guys are a region."

Members of the council approved a resolution to move forward with the grant process, unanimously, 6-0 with councilman Josh Ferran absent from the meeting.

© 2022 HoosierTimes Inc.