Matt Greller, Aim Chief Executive Officer
Indiana’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) program, created by Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2021, has been nothing short of amazing.
Launched with a vision to transform communities with targeted quality of life projects and initiatives that attract a talented workforce, READI has become a model for regional economic development. The Indiana General Assembly agreed to the original $500 million investment, and earlier this year paved the way for a second round by supporting another $500 million. With bold thinking from state leaders, countless strategic partnerships at the local level, and a lot of “think big” planning, the transition to READI 2.0 is underway.
As municipalities and many other stakeholders prepare for READI 2.0, it’s imperative to recognize the achievements of its first-round predecessor. The initial success came early in the process, when local governments and private sector stakeholders formed regions based upon shared vision and synergies unique to their area. This element of local decision making was key to the effective launch of the program.
READI’s strength lies in its multi-faceted approach, which brings together the private sector, academia, and government, creating environments where ideas can flourish. Projects like the Jackson County Learning Center and the USI Registered Nurse Expansion Initiative exemplify how this collaborative effort is leveraging the success of existing frameworks to solve workforce challenges.
One of READI’s key strengths has been its unwavering support for startups and small businesses. By providing critical resources, mentorship, and funding opportunities, READI has fostered a conducive environment for these ventures to thrive. The Northwest Indiana BizHub is an example of this success, contributing to our innovation economy and positioning Indiana for more entrepreneurial wins.
While READI is at the forefront of innovation, its proponents understand the importance of preserving traditional industries. By infusing modern technologies and sustainable practices into sectors like manufacturing and agriculture, READI can protect jobs and set a course for long-term growth and competitiveness. Projects like the Ivy Tech Manufacturing Lab and the Region Roots Local Farm & Food Hub exemplify this approach.
READI’s commitment to infrastructure development targets productivity and connectivity across Indiana. Through projects like the Quantum Corridor, Downtown Hammond Train Station, and similar projects, READI will modernize transportation networks and upgrade digital infrastructure. These efforts represent the bedrock of READI.
Recognizing that talent is the linchpin of economic success, READI has collaborated with educational institutions to develop targeted workforce training programs. Initiatives like Indiana University Kokomo’s Innovation Hall, Purdue’s Semiconductor Workforce Development Project, Vincennes University/Purdue University Design & Innovation Studios, and Industry 4.0 – iSMART Lab in Noble County, have aligned programming with the demands of emerging industries, making Indiana attractive for businesses seeking a competitive edge.
As we look to READI 2.0, it’s crucial to acknowledge the achievements and vision of the more than 350 approved projects in round one. Through its layered approach, READI is transforming Indiana, using collaboration to support innovation, revitalize industries, nurture existing talent, and attract new Hoosiers. The program’s region-specific strategies send a message that prosperity is accessible to all corners of the state.
READI is a testament to the power of harnessing our collective will and embracing forward-thinking ideas. Indiana’s READI program stands tall as a model for states across the nation to copy and potentially build upon. While flattering, we can’t afford to blow our lead. READI 2.0 must outperform its predecessor. And if the past is true to form, it certainly will.
SOURCE: Indiana Capital Chronicle