This project at the end of Fort Wayne's Wells Street Corridor is part of its submission for the READI grant. Screenshot
This project at the end of Fort Wayne's Wells Street Corridor is part of its submission for the READI grant. Screenshot

Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority’s READI application, “Growing with Vision,” has been sent to the Indiana Economic Development Corp. in hopes of gaining up to $50 million for projects.

The 300-some-page Regional Economic Acceleration & Development Initiative (READI) application sent Sept. 30 includes the 11 counties that the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership represents — Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley.

Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this year announced the $500 million initiative, which he hoped would attract at least $2 billion of local public, private and philanthropic match funding.


The paperwork includes letters of support from several mayors, Northeast Indiana’s legislative delegation, the Local Economic Development Organization Council, local philanthropies and several other stakeholders.

A letter in the packet signed by the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority’s board says in part, “Our region of 797,000 people is on the a growth trajectory, and we recognize that we must continue this momentum to win in today’s global economy and the economy of the future. The region is already making significant progress, with five percent population growth between 2010 and 2020 and increasing national recognition of our region’s vitality.”

With less than 800,000 residents, the region’s goal is to have 1 million. With Fort Wayne, the state’s second largest city, as the linchpin for growth in the region, which was named the fastest growing metro in the Great Lakes region, the plan looks to catapult Northeast Indiana into consideration for companies, their workers and others to live, work and play.

The 130 project in the application would be implemented over five years with a potential investment of more than $2 billion, according to the application. The projects focus on growing the workforce, downtown vibrancy and entrepreneurship and innovation.

Even if the region gets the maximum amount, the projects contained in the application are, however, not guaranteed to happen, Michael Galbraith, the authority’s administrator, said. Those projects with funding in place may get priority while others that aren’t even included but come along in the coming years could go to the front of the line.

Among the projects listed, with dollars listed coming from the READI grant:

Northeast Indiana: Poka-Bache Trail Connector, nearly $9 million. Seen as a critical component of the regional trail system, the 81-mile connector will go from Pokagon State Park in Angola to Ouabache State Park in Bluffton. It will bring Steuben, Dekalb, Allen and Wells counties together.

Adams County: The Adams County Catalyst Program Fund, $1 million. The Adams County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) will create a loan fund to provide flexible development gap financing for planned catalyst projects as part of its soon-to-be-launched housing strategy. Identifying catalyst sites, which are either already owned by the city or can be acquired at an affordable price, is the cornerstone of this work.


Allen County: Fort Wayne Riverfront Development, $9 million. Includes redevelopment of the city-owned Wedge at the end of the historic Wells Street Corridor that’s “envisioned as a primarily residential, multistory, mixed-use building accessible to a range of income levels.”

DeKalb County: Invest DeKalb, $3.81 million. Includes downtown redevelopment of approximately 45,000 square feet of new build construction for retail, office space and residential as well as Work Downtown with renovation of two existing downtown buildings to include co-working space, retail, office space for the Jason and Joann Family Foundation.

Huntington County: Huntington Innovation Center and Little River Lofts, $2.59 million. It would incorporate three vacant and one underutilized buildings for 61,900 square feet of space.

Kosciusko County: Owen's Redevelopment Project, $3.5 million. Redevelopment of the former Owen’s Market grocery store in Warsaw to create workforce housing by transforming the property into a four-story mixed-use development encompassing nearly 150 market-rate apartment units, 15,000-20,000 square feet of commercial space, and a 300-plus-space parking garage.

LaGrange County: Topeka Housing Development Project, $2.1 million. The Town of Topeka wants to construct 163 total units of "workforce housing" on two sites. The Housing Resource Hub (HUB) will codevelop the site with Biggs Group.

Noble County: Downtown Kendallville Revitalization, $304,300. "This project will ensure Kendallville’s downtown corridor, designated as a historic district by the US National Register of Historic Places, becomes part of the regional effort to develop downtowns as 'places to be.' The revitalization effort will also leverage the city’s soon-to-be-completed $2.7 million downtown streetscape project (which includes newly installed fiberoptics making 1 Gbps high-speed internet service available throughout the downtown). Specific proposals include renovating 10 to 12 historic downtown buildings to include upper-floor housing, positioning the ground floors of these buildings to attract desired businesses and entrepreneurs, and targeting a second anchor business for downtown (the Strand Theatre being the first). Additional amenities, including a bike-share program, a new park, and trail extensions that loop in the historic downtown district, would round out the effort."

Steuben County: Industry and Academic Collaborative Learning and Training Center, $1 million. To be housed on Trine University’s Angola campus, it will serve as a hub to facilitate business and industry, as well as displaced and incumbent worker career exploration, collaboration, training, and educational development.

Wabash County: Wabash Legacy Site Development, $2.1 million. Located less than a mile from downtown Wabash, this 12-acre development is situated in an Opportunity Zone and encompasses the former Parkview Hospital site. The site was donated by Parkview to the Housing Resource Hub on behalf of the city of Wabash. Known as the Wabash Legacy Site, it is planned to have nearly 51 single-family new construction homebuyer units, as well as a multifamily new construction building that will include 30 to 40 units.

Wells County: Lift Off LLC (Lamar Lofts), nearly $1.6 million. A proposal to develop a 4.45-acre parcel of land in Bluffton with streets, water lines, and sewer and storm water drainage infrastructure. The project would consist of 16 separate buildings (9 duplexes and 7 triplexes) with attached garages, resulting in 39 individual market-rate apartments. The site’s proximity to the Interurban Trail/Poka-Bache Connector would provide an important amenity.

Whitley County: Churubusco Civic Center, $395,400. Located downtown, the proposed transformation of the 13,800-square-foot former PNC Bank building for a larger home for the Churubusco Public Library, an outdated 3,000-square-foot facility, along with space for an afterschool program for at-risk youth (hosted with Mission25); classrooms and meeting space to conduct entrepreneurship classes and other adult education opportunities (through the Churubusco Chamber of Commerce, US Small Business Administration, and Smith-Green Community Schools); and a large parking lot to accommodate community events (such as the Busco Block Party and Fine Arts Festival and pop-up markets).

©Copyright 2022 KPC Media Group, Inc.