Council puts Floyd in line for Regional Cities Initiative funds PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 21 June 2017 08:06

By Josh Suiter
Special Correspondent

The Floyd County Commissioners have opened the door should the state open additional funds for the Regional Cities Initiative. The Council unanimously approved an ordinance in support of forming a Regional Development Authority (RDA) by a vote of 6-0. Council member Cam Wright was not present at the meeting.



The Regional Cities Initiative is a state program that awards grants to communities to use on “quality of place” projects through regional collaboration.

The RDA, which is managed by a board consisting of five members who will serve four-year terms, is established to “acquire, construct, equip, own, lease, and finance projects and facilities for lease to or for the benefit of eligible political subdivisions.” A prior attempt to pass this in 2015 failed.

Prior to the vote, Wendy Dant Chesser, President and CEO of One Southern Indiana (1si), said “We are here this evening to voice support of your leadership in forming a regional development authority. For those of you who were on the council in 2015, you know that the State of Indiana came forward with a regional cities initiative and the intention was to Incentivize communities and counties to work together and think about those type of regional impact projects that would be game changers with the full intention of what realizing economic development benefits and help to both attract and retain the talented workforce that we have in our communities.”

“One of the concerns that was raised by elected officials was that the power of imminent domain was given to the regional development authorities. I want to thank our representatives Ed Clere, who is here this evening, Representative Steve Stemler, Representative Steve Davisson and Representative Karen Engleman who took a a stance at the General Assembly and having that imminent authority eliminated from all RDAs across the state. I think the good news is that you were listened to and you were heard and that it has been rectified,” she added.

Dant Chesser said the 7 RDAs formed in 2015 represent 70% of all Hoosiers. “Over 4.2 million Hoosiers are represented through the regional development authority,” she said.

“The three (areas) that were awarded the regional cities designation received a $42 million grant from the State of Indiana to use as a seed money to leverage private investment in their communities,” Dant Chesser said.

“In the Evansville area, they used $4.3 million in state investment for a total of a $15 million project which is an urban living research center,” she added.

Matt Hall, Senior Vice President of Economic Development for 1si, spoke about the benefits of the project from an economic development perspective. “I have had the pleasure of conducting economic development services in our community for over 25 years. For me, as a resident and as someone who works in economic development, it is very exciting to see us a community build toward being one of these target communities that companies want to locate in. We have seen lots of economic development successes and lots of growth,” he said.

“Our Achilles Heel is our lack of available talent not to just bring new companies to area but to expand our existing businesses. This is why I am excited about the Regional Cities Initiative. Attracting talent to our region is critical. I applaud the state for allowing us to leverage private investment towards securing those state funds to make those game changing projects that we want in Southern Indiana,” he added.

State Representative Ed Clere said “I appreciate your willingness to entertain this. As Wendy mentioned, 2 years ago we got bogged down in some issues, a lot of misinformation and things were rushed at the time. Now, we have a chance to revisit it. Unfortunately, the opportunity to secure $42 million is not there but there are still quite a few opportunities. I hope the legislation that we worked on with regard to imminent domain will relay the fears and concerns. That is off the table now.”

“I think we can all agree that we need to come together as region for the benefit of everyone in our region. I have seen other areas of the state and regions of Indiana that have come together and they have formed regional chamber of commerce, they have formed RDAs and formed other partnerships and found other ways to forge a regional identity,” he added.

“Recently, our part of the state, this part of Southern Indiana sticks out as the one population center in Indiana that has not come together as a region and as a result is missing out on the opportunities that other parts of the state are seeing as a result of their regionalism,” Clere said.

Council President Brad Striegel had said the ordinance would need unanimous consent. A motion to approved was made by Councilman Tom Pickett and seconded by Councilwoman Lana Aebersold.

Council Vice President Denise Konkle said she was “excited about the opportunity that this may present for us. If not in short term than more in the long term.”

Councilman Dale Bagshaw said although he wasn’t an elected official in 2015 “I was against that for various reasons. I thought if they have got all this money floating around why not give to municipalities and the county. I think it is exciting.”

After the meeting, Dant Chesser said “The Floyd County Council members tonight showed phenomenal leadership today in being the first to resurrect the regional development authority. They have taken the time and the effort to listen to the concerns of their constituents, to adopt a resolution that meets the needs and now they have established a benchmark for other counties in our region to jump on in with them because the opportunity is definitely set out for a larger group of communities to work together.”

“Our next step is to go back to those communities that were also considering working with us in 2015. Clark County voted in favor in 2015 so we will go back to them and ask them to participate again. Scott County the same also voted in favor so we hope that they will adopt this revised ordinance. Then we would also like to visit with Harrison and Washington counties to revisit their concerns.”

Last Updated on Friday, 23 June 2017 07:09