Submitted by the Indy Chamber
Today, the nine-county Indianapolis metro formally submitted its Regional Development Plan for funding consideration through the state’s Regional Cities Initiative.
The Regional Development Plan makes the case for accelerating progress on three priority projects, using state investment to build on regional momentum:
- Red Line rapid transit route – a 35-mile, three-county rapid transit service;
- 16 Tech innovation district – a multi-industry, “live/work” development north of the IUPUI campus that will attract new research and development opportunities and high-skill STEM jobs;
- Expansion of the region’s trail and bikeway network, as a critical part of Indy’s ‘livability’ infrastructure.
According to a press release from the Indy Chamber, each of these projects play a unique role in talent attraction and quality place-making. Quality of life has become an economic imperative; as growing businesses list a skilled workforce as their top priority, successful regions appeal to talented workers and offer a growing labor force.
“The competitive landscape among U.S. cities and regions has changed significantly in the past decade. A traditional, “dealmaking” economic development approach is not enough. We must attract and retain top talent, develop great places and neighborhoods, all of which help existing businesses reach their full potential,” stated Michael Huber, president and CEO of the Indy Chamber.
Regional Cities challenges Indiana’s metropolitan areas to enhance their quality of life appeal to skilled workers and talent-focused employers, to reverse the state’s declining workforce trends. The Indianapolis region accounts for 70 percent of the state’s recent population gains, but faces major hurdles to continued growth.
The recent Central Indiana Corporate Partnership Battelle study on Indiana’s competitive economic advantage notes that Indianapolis needs to take more strategic advantage of the strong concentration of talent in its urban core. Investment in the future of innovation districts like 16 Tech will help the region and the state leverage its research, industry and workforce assets in the life sciences and other advanced industries, helping Indiana compete for higher-value R&D and other business activity.
The Red Line will also create new economic development opportunities, as it connects workers to jobs and attracts new residents and investment to neighborhoods along the route. Additionally, supporters believe Regional Cities funding will strengthen the region’s application for additional construction grants through the federal Small Starts program.
Earlier this month, the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority unanimously ratified this agenda, based on a year-long planning process led by the Indy Chamber that sought input from thousands of corporate and civic leaders, elected officials and residents. Priorities had already earned the support of the Central Indiana Council of Elected Officials, made up of the region’s mayors and town council presidents.
“When the Regional Cities Initiative was announced, we were pleased to see that the state also recognizes the power of regionalism,” said Westfield Mayor Andy Cook. “As the three priority projects for Central Indiana were selected, we saw that they were consistent with this vision.”
The Indy Chamber was a strong advocate for the Regional Cities Initiative, making its passage a top priority during the 2015 Legislative Session.