A new regional land bank has been selected to receive $1.25 million in Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI 1.0) funds by the Indiana Uplands READI Steering Committee and approved by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). The Indiana Uplands Regional Land Bank will acquire distressed properties in Crawford, Daviess, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, and Orange Counties with the goal of converting them into productive uses and stimulating property values throughout the region.
Governed by a Board of Directors with representatives of each member county, the Indiana Uplands Regional Land Bank is a new nonprofit organization that has contracted with the Southern Indiana Development Commission to assist and advise with the acquisition of distressed properties, the development of policies and procedures, and initial program administration.
“A substantial number of tax delinquent and other nonrevenue generating, vacant, or dilapidated properties exist in our counties,” said Southern Indiana Development Commission Executive Director Greg Jones. “These properties contribute to blight and deterioration within incorporated cities, towns, and surrounding rural areas. We’re proud to work on behalf of the Land Bank to acquire and return them to the tax rolls to provide new housing, grow industries, and create jobs for residents. Ultimately, it will revitalize and stabilize neighborhoods.”
The concept of a regional land bank developed following the release of ROI’s 2019 Indiana Uplands Housing Study. The study gathered information on the region’s housing market through a variety of techniques, including data, stakeholder focus groups, and market surveys. The study gives communities and housing developers a guidebook and a toolkit to ensure a healthy and functioning housing market that offers housing options to all residents.
“Employers across the Indiana Uplands are growing and poised to expand,” said ROI President and CEO Tina Peterson. “For this region to support that growth, we must address key barriers to workforce retention and attraction. Housing is one of the top challenges most frequently cited by employers and communities alike. Since the Housing Study’s release, our region has begun deploying a variety of creative solutions, and the Land Bank is a great example of a solution that addresses a vital need.”
The study outlined strategic housing resources, issues, and opportunities on a regional and county level. Among the recommendations identified in the study included the removal of dilapidated structures, the redevelopment of vacant and infill lots, and the acquisition of land attractive to housing developers.
“The Indiana Uplands Land Bank offers incredible potential to redevelop underutilized properties that are already connected to infrastructure,” said ROI Vice President for Community Development Lisa Abbott. “This environmentally friendly solution minimizes sprawl and returns land and properties into valuable, productive assets for each of these counties served by the Land Bank.”
The Boards of Commissioners in each of the member counties have agreed that establishing the land bank is beneficial to the citizens of the member counties and collaboratively desire to address distressed properties through the regional land bank initiative. “What I like about the Land Bank is the Board has built local control into the process and allows for a home-grown team of representatives to prioritize which properties need to be addressed first,” said Greene County Commissioner and Indiana Uplands Regional Land Bank board president, Rick Graves.
The Indiana Uplands Regional Land Bank will utilize eProperty Plus, a land management software system developed to support property data management and revitalization.
“ePropertyPlus is the preferred software solution for land banks tasked to put property back to productive reuse,” said Jones. “This program will also allow the public to see what is available for sale after the properties have been acquired and cleaned up by the Indiana Upland Regional Land Bank. We will be adding properties as we secure them.”
The Indiana Uplands Land Bank eProperty site can be accessed at https://public-sidc.epropertyplus.com.
For more information on the Indiana Uplands Regional Land Bank, contact Rhonda Rumble, SIDC Director of Environmental Services, at email@example.com or 812.295.3707.
ROI is currently updating the Indiana Uplands Housing Study with updated housing data. Look for more information on the release of the update at https://regionalopportunityinc.org/housing/
About the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) in the Indiana Uplands
In May 2021, Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) launched the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI 1.0), a transformational initiative with $500 million in state appropriations to promote strategic investments to make Indiana a magnet for talent and economic growth.
Through READI 1.0, regions worked collaboratively to create visions for the future, with programs, initiatives, and projects critical to retaining talent and attracting the workforce of tomorrow. In the Uplands region, this effort, led by ROI and Radius Indiana, included participation from hundreds of stakeholders and organizations and leadership from a steering committee with 17 members representing regional anchor institutions and regional organizations.
Seventeen regions, including the Indiana Uplands, developed plans that outline strategies focused on improving the quality of place, quality of life, and quality of opportunity. The Indiana Uplands plan, entitled “A Region on the Rise,” can be accessed on the ROI website at https://regionalopportunityinc.org/readi
To help regions achieve their goals, the IEDC awarded READI 1.0 funds to accelerate the implementation of regional development plans and the programs and projects identified that will catalyze economic and population growth. In December 2021, the Indiana Uplands was awarded $30 million in READI 1.0 funds for our “Region on the Rise.” Regions are expected to provide a 4:1 match in support of projects and programs. This includes a required 1:1 match from local public funding and a recommended 3:1 match from private and philanthropic sources.
For more information and announcements on Indiana Uplands READI 1.0 projects, please visit: https://regionalopportunityinc.org/readi-projects/
In September 2023, READI 2.0 was announced. Launched by Gov. Holcomb and led by the IEDC, READI 2.0 continues to build on the framework and successes of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative and the 21st Century Talent Initiative, encouraging regional collaboration and data-driven, long-term planning that, when implemented, will attract and retain talent in Indiana. Building on the success of READI 1.0, which allocated $487 million to 361 projects, the $500 million READI fund, part of the 2023 Next Level Agenda and approved by the Indiana General Assembly, continues this mission. More information is available at IndianaREADI.com.
About Southern Indiana Development Commission
The Southern Indiana Development Commission is a five-county economic development district that was first organized in mid-1972 as the Center for Economic Development. In 1973, the group organized under Indiana Code 36-7-7-1 as a Regional Planning Commission. In December 2023, SIDC celebrated 50 years of service to Daviess, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, and Martin Counties.
About Regional Opportunity Initiatives
Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advance economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen, and Washington counties). ROI is growing potential and possibility through a focus on advanced industry sectors, regionalism, transformative school and workforce redesign, and placemaking strategies.