The Wabash River Regional Development Authority on Thursday announced it will divide $20 million in READI grant funding among 23 projects in the Wabash Valley.
The six-county region in December was awarded $20 million as part of the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative program, which is a $500 million effort run by the state and which uses federal COVID-19 relief funds. The region covers Vigo, Clay, Parke, Vermillion, Sullivan and Knox counties.
“This highlights the importance of working together. We as a six-county region are emphasizing regional priorities as we do our part to uplift the great state of Indiana,” said Greg Goode, president of the Wabash Valley RDA.
“Each project is different, at a different phase with different strategies toward completion,” Goode said. “Some of the projects are in their infancy…other projects are near completion, they just needed a last additional fusion of some funding to kind of get over that hump. All projects have to meet the specific guidelines of the American Rescue Plan [Act of 2021].”
All projects have until the end of 2024 to have money committed, with all READI funds to be spent by the end of 2026.
Requirements of the READI grant funds are based on a matching ratio, with government projects requiring a 2-to-1 funding match of the local government dollars to READI dollars; non-profit agencies with a 3-to-1 match of nonprofit-generated funds to READI funds; and private projects requiring a 4-to-1 match of private money to READI money, said Rachel Leslie, chief executive officer and founder of RJL Solutions, an advocacy firm that works for the Regional Development Authority.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation requires that, when compiling all projects in the region, the total outpay equals a 4-to-1 match. In other words, the $20 million local READI payout should generate a total investment of $80 million, “which is why the private partners become such an important tool in this whole process,” Leslie said.
The largest individual project funded is for a private/public partnership at $4.3 million to the Courtyard Inn and Residence Inn hotels and parking garage. That project would be built on the site of the former administration office building of the Vigo County School Corporation at the intersection of 7th Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute.
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said the dual hotel project with a parking garage is needed to further improve the ability of the city’s new downtown convention center to attract larger groups.
“The overall project is well over $50 million for the two hotels and a garage, which is a smaller garage,” Bennett said. “The garage is an integral part in order to make the whole project work. So this money will go a long way toward getting that [hotel project] accomplished.”
While not yet decided, the garage itself could be owned by the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board or by the city’s Department of Redevelopment, the mayor said.
“That will be our portion of the project in order for [Dora Hotel Co. and Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson] to invest $40 million to $50 million in two hotels.”
The mayor said private/public partnerships are utilized nationwide for municipal improvements.
“We know we have to have a couple hundred more hotel rooms for the convention center, which has been part of our plan from the beginning,” the mayor said. “In order to get that private investment to come to the table, there will be a portion of it that will be a private/public partnership for the garage portion of it.”
The largest number of READI grants went to the city of Sullivan with four grants totaling $4.3 million.
Those grants include $1.5 million for a city central plaza with an aquatic feature; $1 million for a city pool; $800,000 for a housing project to develop 40 new homes — town homes, duplexes and single-family homes; and $1 million for a hotel next to the city’s new civic center.
“I think at the end of the day, we were ready for READI,” said Sullivan Mayor Clint Lamb.
“We have been working tirelessly and our administration put together many community partners to bring us to this point,” he said. “I think we send a strong message that we will make things happen in the city of Sullivan. We so much appreciate the READI money that is coming.
The Sullivan hotel project, which received $1 million, “is an $8 million project, so we are leveraging private funds, so that $1 million is just to stimulate” investment, Lamb said.
The housing project is a $12.2 million investment, Lamb said, “so just in two projects alone, the city of Sullivan will leverage $20 million of private investment.”
Lamb said the city has pursued grants and is using local income tax to help with several projects, including completion of a new city pool.
The Swope Art Museum received $150,000 toward a fundraising effort to create flexible spaces for art classes, gatherings and workshops.
“We have a capital campaign to preserve and protect our building and our art,” said Swope Executive Director Fred Nation.
“This is a 3-to-1 match so we have to raise $450,000 to get this $150,000, but we are ongoing in our fundraising, so we see this as an added bonus to get this done,” Nation said. “We are in the silent phase of our capital campaign of $6 million, and we are halfway there.”
The projects receiving awards were announced Thursday at the Terre Haute Convention Center.
In addition to 23 projects, the RDA targeted $530,000 for grant administration. The RDA could designate up to $600,000 for the administration, Goode said, but chose to reduce that by $70,000 that could be used to fund other projects.
The funding includes hiring an attorney, Richard Shagley Jr., and a fiscal agent, which is Thrive West Central. That agency will receive 3% of the grant administration cost. The administration funds can also be used by the RDA to provide matching funds for other future development in the region, Goode said.
Grants awarded were:
• $4.3 million to Courtyard+Residence Inn parking garage in downtown Terre Haute. That project near the new convention center includes two hotels, a Courtyard Inn and Residence Inn.
• $250,000 to Billie Creek Village to rehabilitate historic tourism site.
• $2 million to the William Henry Harrison presidential mansion in Knox County.
• $1 million to the Ivy Tech Diversity and Career Center/School of Health Sciences
• $1 million to the Early Childhood Education Center at Indiana State University.
• $1 million for a hotel project in Sullivan.
• $1.5 million to the city of Sullivan for its central plaza project.
• $1 million for for the Sullivan City Pool.
• $800,000 to Sullivan housing project to develop 40 homes (town homes, duplexes and single-family)
• $50,000 for the city of Terre Haute for clubhouse improvements at the Rea Park golf course.
• $250,000 to the city of Clinton for a water feature in Riverside Park.
• $100,000 to Vincennes University’s Design and Innovation Studio.
• $1 million to partnership with Vigo County School Corporation/Indiana State University Early Learning Center.
• $1.8 million for pilot program to encourage homebuilders in West Central Indiana to construct homes. Homebuilders can request up to 10% of building costs.
• $1.5 million Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to relocate Rose-Hulman Ventures to its main campus. The facility is currently 6 miles off of campus. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology will construct a new campus for Ventures at the corner of Indiana 46 and Indiana 42.
• $1.5 million to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Equine Event Center.
• $50,000 for a feasibility study for a sports complex and aquatic center with the possibility of developing a Terre Haute Multi-Sports Complex and Waterpark.
• $50,000 for Terre Haute Children’s Museum outdoor space, with climbing walls and playground equipment.
• $200,000 to The Mill to allow in-house sound and production and to create ADA accessibility.
• $150,000 to Turn to the River for Art Spaces Inc.
• $220,000 for Wilma and Liston Buell Community Center a community center.
• $500,000 for West Central Business Hub.
• $100,000 for West Terre Haute Clinic and Pharmacy.
• Wabash Valley RDA $530,000 for READI Grant Administration.
To track and follow progress and updates on the projects, visit www.wabashriverrda.com or find the agency on Facebook.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.