In May 2021, Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) announced the launch of the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI). READI builds on the successes of the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative and the 21st Century Talent Initiative, encouraging neighboring communities across the state to work collaboratively to develop a bold vision for their future that, when implemented, will attract, develop and retain talent in Indiana. To achieve this vision, 17 regions, including the Indiana Uplands, have developed plans that outline strategies focused on improving the quality of place, quality of life and quality of opportunity within their communities.

This transformational initiative will dedicate $500 million in state appropriations to strategically advance quality of place and quality of life, innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent attraction. Through READI, selected regions will receive grants of up to $50 million to support projects and programs that help make Indiana a magnet for talent and economic growth.

Indiana Uplands READI Development Plan: “A Region on the Rise”

View the Indiana Uplands READI Development Plan – Full Spreads
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Frequently Asked Questions about READI

What is READI?

The Regional Economic Acceleration & Development Initiative (READI) was formally launched by Governor Holcomb on May 3, 2021. The purpose of this initiative is to create an “opportunity to accelerate economic resilience and growth and become magnets for the talent Hoosier businesses need to thrive.”

What types of regional development strategies is IEDC interested in funding?

According to the IEDC website, the IEDC urges regions to select strategies that will make positive developments in quality of place and quality of life, quality of opportunity, innovation, entrepreneurship, and talent attraction and development.

Who was involved in the process for the Uplands READI Development Plan?

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) and Radius Indiana (Radius) assembled a 17-member regional steering committee comprised of anchor institutions and regional organizations. ROI, Radius, and its partners, Indiana Innovation Institute (IN3) and the IU Center for Rural Engagement (CRE), conducted a listening tour in all 11 counties in June 2021 to hear about the accomplishments and priorities of each county. Over 200 community stakeholders participated in the listening sessions.

The information from the listening sessions formed the basis for the steering committee’s development of eight working groups. Each working group was formed with regionally relevant subject matter experts in the areas of digital inclusion, housing, innovation & entrepreneurship, quality of place, talent & business attraction, talent development, transportation & tourism, and health. The working groups met multiple times to identify, assess and explore projects and programs to enhance each of these areas.

How were programs/projects submitted?

ROI created an online tool that allowed Uplands organizations and individuals to provide information on potential projects and programs that have the capacity to grow the region’s economic outcomes through investments in talent, business, and quality of place opportunities. ROI, Radius, anchor institutions, and community organizations publicized the tool widely among regional media outlets, organizational newsletters, social media, and word of mouth.

How were programs/projects selected?

More than 270 program/project proposals were received through the portal. The proposals were categorized by focus area and provided to the appropriate working group for review. The proposals had varying degrees of completeness; many of them were purely conceptual. Of course, not every great idea was included in the plan. Working groups prioritized projects, and there was a lot of work done to garner some concrete budget numbers in order to get projects included.

Many projects aligned along similar themes. Those programs/projects were often grouped together, and an overarching program was created to allow for a more comprehensive regional reach. An example would be the recapitalization of Ready Communities to assist the many wonderful quality of life projects submitted through the portal. Proposals were reviewed and/or selected by their working groups to serve as examples or a sampling of what things the Uplands could do should it receive funding. Moving forward, whether we are funded or not, is to implement as many of these great projects as we are able for the improvement of our region and the people who call it home.

Are programs/projects that are identified in the RDP guaranteed to receive READI funding?

The projects and programs identified in RDP serve as strong examples of how READI funding could be deployed to meet our regional goals and objectives. However, inclusion in the plan does not guarantee that READI funding will be available for a particular project or program. Should the Uplands receive READI funding, a process will be defined for deploying the funds in accordance with the guidance and parameters established by IEDC.  Proposals included in the RDP and others that were not yet fully developed may be considered for READI funding. Until IEDC has approved the Uplands for funding and has outlined funding parameters, there is no guarantee any proposal will or will not receive funds.

When will we know if our region will receive READI funding?

IEDC will announce funding decisions in December 2021.

Who will manage READI funding opportunities on behalf of the Indiana Uplands?

ROI will serve as the administrative entity responsible for the implementation of the region’s strategic plan and successful deployment of funding made available through READI. Once clear guidelines on what can and cannot be funded are received from IEDC, a process for moving forward will be determined by the steering committee.

How can the Uplands region use the READI Regional Development Plan?

This plan is designed to be used as a road map for achieving the region’s goals and objectives. The plan brings together a wealth of data and regional information that can be used as the foundation for local governments, businesses, and organizations to establish priorities, pursue resources, and find partners to help communities achieve their goals.

How can I stay involved?

ROI and its partners will be doing a follow-up READI session in every county in the Uplands to talk about the READI process and next steps. Please make sure to attend. Check back to this page for updates.

Indiana Uplands READI Steering Committee

Lisa Abbott
Regional Opportunity Initiatives

Tony Armstrong
IU Ventures

Joe Carley
IU Innovate Indiana/Center for Rural Engagement

Julie Griffith
Indiana Innovation Institute

Chuck Johnson
Vincennes University

Gareth Jolly
General Motors, Retired

Bill Kaiser
Dentons/Mid-States Corridor RDA

Doug Kellams
Tri-County Builders

Michi McClaine
Regional Opportunity Initiatives

Dan Peterson
Cook Group Inc.

Tina Peterson
Regional Opportunity Initiatives

Jeff Quyle
Radius Indiana

Mark Schroeder
German American Bank/Mid-States Corridor RDA

Kerry Thomson
Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement

Jennie Vaughan
Ivy Tech Bloomington

Matt Weinzapfel
Jasper Engines

Kyle Werner / Rotational Members
NSWC Crane

READI in the Uplands Timeline

A comprehensive approach to community engagement and information gathering characterized the Uplands READI planning process. Hundreds of people across the Uplands participated through community convenings, working groups, focused conversations, and steering committee participation. Hundreds more submitted projects and programs through our online portal. The timeline highlights the many ways regional stakeholders engaged throughout the process of developing the Regional Development Plan for READI.

May 3, 2021: LAUNCHGovernor Eric Holcomb formally announces the launch of READI and $500 million in state appropriations to promote regional investments to strategically advance quality of place and quality of life, innovation, entrepreneurship, talent attraction, and population growth in Indiana.
Early May 2021: PLANNINGROI and Radius Indiana convene a broad coalition of stakeholders to form our regional steering committee to guide the process in the Indiana Uplands and ensure our development strategies are regionally relevant. The steering committee is comprised of representatives from anchor institutions and key industry clusters in the Uplands.
June 9, 2021: INFORMATIONAL SESSIONSROI, Radius Indiana, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation hold two READI informational meetings in Bloomington & French Lick with community leaders, major employers, and regional stakeholders to highlight the state’s goals, address specific questions, and begin planning our region’s response to this opportunity for regional collaboration and development.
June 14 – 24, 2021: LISTENING SESSIONSROI, the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement, and Radius Indiana visit with leaders in each of the 11 counties over two weeks in June. These sessions captured what has been accomplished locally in the last five years and continues to be a need and a priority. Two hundred community stakeholders participated in listening sessions. These sessions captured wins and wishes, opportunities, and barriers to inform the regional SWOT analysis.
Late June – July 1, 2021: COMMUNITY COMMITMENTSROI collects resolutions from county commissions, city and town councils, school districts, and other entities affirming participation in READI as a member of the Indiana Uplands region. This was accomplished by the July 1 IEDC deadline, and ROI submitted documentation indicating the region’s intent to participate.
July 6 – 30, 2021: PROJECT & PROGRAM SUBMISSIONSROI prepares an online tool to allow Uplands organizations and individuals to provide information on potential projects and programs that have the capacity to grow the region’s economic outcomes through investments in place-based talent, business, and quality of place opportunities. ROI, Radius, anchor institutions, and community organizations publicized the tool widely among regional media outlets, organizational newsletters, social media,and word of mouth. A total of 270 submissions were made through the portal.
July 1 – August 2021: WORKING GROUP EVALUATIONSROI, Radius Indiana, and Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement form working groups of regionally relevant subject matter experts in the areas of digital inclusion, housing, innovation & entrepreneurship, quality of place, talent attraction, talent development, transportation & tourism, and health. These groups met multiple times to identify, assess, and explore regional projects and programs to enhance each of these areas.
August-September 2021: DUE DILIGENCE & REFINEMENTThe working groups, steering committee, and planning team define a process for collecting additional information, evaluating submitted projects and proposals, and developing a cohesive list of representative projects and programs that would bring value to the region and benefit from READI funding. Due diligence was also conducted to identify the financial resources necessary to advance projects and programs and meet IEDC match requirements. The Steering Committee also meets for a half-day work session to refine strategies.
September 2021: PLAN DEVELOPMENTROI, TEConomy, and the regional steering committee collaborate to synthesize data, evaluate regional trends and metrics, and define a vision of continued growth for the Indiana Uplands. Guided by this vision and the refinement of projects and programs, ROI and its project team develop a formal READI plan and update the region’s Strategic Plan for Economic Prosperity in the Indiana Uplands.
Fall 2021 – 2040: READI & BEYONDMoving forward, ROI will continue to coordinate regional development efforts along with key partner organizations, anchor institutions, and local governments.

In fall 2021, ROI, Radius Indiana, and the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement will conduct a second listening tour in each of the 11 counties. We will invite participants from the June 2021 listening tour, provide updates on the region, its vision, its updated strategic plan, its participation in READI, and gather follow-up information from community stakeholders on how best to implement projects and programs for optimal results. The steering committee will also continue in its oversight role, evaluating funding requests and providing recommendations on future catalyzing programs and projects that have the potential to enhance the region further and grow population both in the near and long term.

Next Steps for READI

An IEDC review committee will evaluate each of the 17 regional development plans. In December, the committee will make funding recommendations to the IEDC board of directors. The IEDC will then award READI funding to selected regions to advance projects and programs to catalyze economic growth and talent development.

More information on READI is available at: https://www.iedc.in.gov/program/indiana-readi/overview