Central Indiana initiative named finalist in regional economic challenge

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A central Indiana coalition has made the initial cut out of 529 applicants for the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s $1 billion “Build Back Better Regional Challenge,” the federal agency announced Monday. The EDA said the winning programs will receive up to $100 million each to use toward economic pandemic recovery.

The 60 finalists—each a coalition of partnering entities—have proposed projects that will develop or scale industry sectors, develop and train workers, and build resilient economies.

The Central Indiana Initiative intends to “improve the competitiveness of, and access to, the region’s food processing and manufacturing cluster,” according to its project description. If it receives a grant, the coalition plans to launch food processing and production facilities, a Learning Lab and Science Center and a coalition to improve and coordinate regional transit.

As a finalist, the Central Indiana Initiative, which is led by the city of Indianapolis, will receive a $500,000 grant to further develop its proposed projects. Finalists will use the funds to refine their proposals as they seek the larger grants, but will also put coalitions in a better position to apply for other funding sources if they don’t make the final cut.

Ultimately, 20 to 30 regional coalitions will receive funding, ranging from $25 million to $100 million.

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