White River Regional Opportunity Initiative awarded $20 million


By Chris Bavender

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, along with the state’s Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers and the Indiana Economic Development Corp., has awarded $500 million to Indiana READI regions to support regional development plans across 17 regions representing all 92 counties.

READI stands for the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative.

“The seventeen regions submitted innovative, creative and visionary projects that will result in a positive economic impact on Indiana’s future. It took immense collaboration between communities as they put aside their own visions and worked together to present the best plan for the region,” Holcomb stated in a press release. “These plans will shape Indiana for generations to come and bring value to our state like nothing we’ve witnessed before.”

The White River Regional Opportunity Initiative, comprised of the Town of Zionsville and the Town of McCordsville, as well as Hamilton, Marion and Madison counties, was awarded $20 million of its $49.9 million request. The proposal detailed a cohesive regional vision, goals and projects or programs related to economic development within the White River Region.

Mayors, municipal leaders and major stakeholders will meet in early this year to discuss projects and allocate READI Grant funding for the region.

“The READI program helps invest in quality of life initiatives and train our workforce to move toward a stronger central Indiana region,” Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen stated in a press release. “We are grateful to the IEDC and Governor Holcomb on making these regional investments a priority. These efforts help us tell Indiana’s success story to the nation and beyond.”

The White River Regional Opportunity Initiative serves as a job center and economic hub for the state, according to state officials. They also said the Regional Development Plan for the White River Regional Opportunity Initiative represents a transformational opportunity to further accelerate population growth, talent attraction and retention and smart economic development in the region.

“This is government at its best – bringing communities together with the common goal of advancing our state. I am excited about the outcomes here in Zionsville and the forward momentum with the Zionsville Gateway Plan,” Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron stated in a press release.

Home to almost 1.5 million people, the White River Regional Opportunity Initiative region has grown significantly in the past 10 years, gaining 10 percent population between 2010 and 2020 (compared to Indiana’s 4.2 percent rise).

“This plan was a true representation of what can happen when we see ourselves as one region and bring our collective assets to the table,” Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness stated in a press release. “The White River is one of our best, but underutilized, assets of our metro (area). I’m encouraged that the selection committee saw the value the Indianapolis Region brings to our state and the impact we can make on the state’s economic, talent, and quality of life efforts.”