IU, Purdue to study impact of READI economic development program

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Funds from the Indiana READI program will support construction of a 205-unit apartment complex, part of a $50 million McCord Square Downtown District (Rebar Development)

Indiana’s two top public research universities will collaborate on a multi-year study to review the effectiveness of one of the state’s largest economic development initiatives that was launched with federal stimulus dollars.

The Purdue University Center for Regional Development and the Indiana University Public Policy Institute intend to analyze the impact of the state’s READI program, the universities announced Monday. The READI initiative, which stands for Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, was launched in 2021 using $500 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Since then, all of Indiana’s 92 counties have received a portion of the funding, which has been used to support everything from housing developments and public parks to public infrastructure and workforce development programs. The funds are intended to match additional public, private and not-for-profit dollars to exceed an expected $12 billion in total investments, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

“When we announced the READI grant program, we knew it had the potential to have a generational impact across every region and further accelerate population and economic growth throughout Indiana,” David Rosenberg, Indiana secretary of commerce and CEO of the IEDC, said in a media release.

“This partnership with Purdue and IU will put additional data behind these investments in quality of place, quality of life and quality of opportunity, highlighting the significance of each project and program and the state’s unprecedented investment as a whole,” Rosenberg said. “Together, we can illustrate Indiana’s commitment to and progress toward creating nationally recognized, vibrant destinations that retain and attract top talent.”

IU and Purdue officials said the two universities will develop a survey to examine how the money is used to develop capital projects and programs, measuring key performance indicators like population growth and per capita income. Hoosiers will also be asked to provide feedback on whether the projects have improved their quality of life.

“We want to know if residents are positive about this,” said Roberto Gallardo, director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development. “With our contribution to the evaluation process, we’ll be helping to tell a powerful story of the impact this program is having in regions throughout the state.”

Tom Guevara, director of the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, said the partnership will deliver “tangible, data-driven insight.”

The IEDC said it will allocate $1.7 million to the two universities to fund the study.

Since the READI program was launched in 2021, it has provided funding for more than 360 projects, including a performing arts center in Plainfield, a sports arena in Boone County and expansion of the Nickel Plate Trail, based on a former railroad line that runs from Kokomo to Rochester.

In the most recent state budget, lawmakers approved Gov. Eric Holcomb’s request for $500 million to launch the second phase of the READI program, which will use state dollars instead of federal funds.

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One thought on “IU, Purdue to study impact of READI economic development program

  1. The local match needs to be reduced or eliminated for rural, economically-depressed communities. Many smaller communities don’t have large surpluses to pull a local match from.

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