Regional Economic Advancement and Development Initiative (READI) Proposals
South Bend-Elkhart Region, White River Region, Greater Lafayette Region
In 2020, the State of Indiana launched READI, a strategy to allocate $500 million of State-appropriated funds to defined economic regions across the state with the goal of advancing economic recovery, growth, and resilience. Fourth Economy supported three of 17 total regions in developing strategic economic development plans These regions, South Bend-Elkhart, White River, and Greater Lafayette, each secured funding from the State, with the South Bend-Elkhart Region securing a maximum investment of $50 million to support the advancement of their plan, Smart, Connected Communities 2030.
These regions were tasked with engaging a regional set of stakeholders to design strategies that would enhance quality of place, quality of life, and quality of opportunity in order to attract and retain top talent throughout the state of Indiana. While some stakeholder were already in active partnership, many were being engaged for the first time. The planning process would require complex and multifaceted stakeholder relationships, incorporation of priorities from elected officials spanning multiple municipalities, economic analyses, and best practice identification to design the most compelling possible portfolio of strategic investments for each respective community.
The Fourth Economy team deployed three project managers, Rich Overmoyer, Victoria Adams Phipps, and Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, to guide expedited planning processes that would ensure robust stakeholder participation, cultivate strong community engagement, and deliver buy-in from the broader community. In each community, economic analysis was used to inform a strategic framework for investment. An open call to the community was issued to solicit ideas for investments, either programmatic or physical, that could benefit from potential READI funds. This process for stakeholder engagement and public participation, paired with in-depth economic analyses, research, and multiple rounds of facilitated strategy development, resulted in three strong proposals and action plans to advance economic recovery, growth, and resilience for these regions.
All three regions supported by Fourth Economy received funding allocation to support their plan's proposed investments. The South Bend-Elkhart region received a maximum investment of $50 million, the Greater Lafayette region received $30 million, and the White River Regional Opportunity Initiative received $20 million, all from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). All three regions are now working to deploy funds to make strategic investments that advance the strength of their regional economies.
South Bend-Elkhart, White River, Greater Lafayette, IN