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Some question if Indianapolis should get regional money

August 9, 2015
The decision by Indianapolis officials to join Carmel, Westfield and Greenwood in an economic development group seeking millions of dollars in state grants has some questioning whether it needs the help as much as other regions.
 
Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, said he believes the money would be better used outside of central Indiana, which already is doing well in making itself a competitive place to live.
 
"The problem is other places in Indiana haven't realized that is the magic alchemy for success. That if they are not an attractive place to live, you really don't have a serious economic future," Hicks said.
 
The new $84 million state grant program, created in May, is aimed at encouraging counties and cities to collaborate on a "regional cities" program and make their areas more attractive places to live.
 
Some see the Regional Cities Initiative as a program to benefit areas outside of the state's urban core, and so wonder why central Indiana is seeking the funding, The Indianapolis Star reported. Supporters of central Indiana's inclusion say the area is just like any other region and faces its own struggles for growth.
 
"What about central Indiana would make it any different than any other metro area across the state," said Mark Fisher, vice president of government relations and policy development for the Indy Chamber.
 
Greg Wathen, CEO of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwestern Indiana, said he was surprised central Indiana applied for the funding, but added that he thinks every region should be allowed to apply.
 
"But if the state truly wants to improve, I believe the first two regional cities chosen should be outside of Indianapolis," Wathen said.
 
Those heading up proposals from other regions say they are focused on their own, not those of other regions.
 
"We have to compete, and the more time we spend worrying about central Indiana, the less time we spend focused on what we can change, which is our proposal, our behaviors, our actions," said John Sampson, president and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.
 
The IEDC is expected to award the grants in December.
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