Hoch Associates has been a long time advocate of the Indiana Regional Cities initiative which was originally announced by the IEDC in November 2014 as a way to fight population stagnation and potential decline. Statistics have shown us that in the last 50 years, only two Indiana counties have grown faster than the nation as a whole. While our business climate is ranked among the best in the entire nation, most counties are still projected to lose people and potentially jobs at a rate that should concern most everyone in the state. This is why we believe that the Regional Cities initiative set forth by the state is essential in making Indiana really a “State That Works.” During the program reveal, state leaders shared a few benchmark regions that communities in Indiana should look to imitate including Austin Texas, Provo Utah, Manhattan Kansas, Denver Colorado and Boise Idaho. These communities have seen exponential growth by investing heavily in improving the quality of life that attracts and retains residents and jobs, creating healthy and vibrant communities. We truly believe the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative is a #powerfulidea that will help put Indiana on a path of success in the coming decades.
With the upcoming presentations to the state on Tuesday, October 6th and Wednesday, October 7th, we wanted to share a snapshot of each regions submissions to secure the $42 Million in funding. Each region had several steps to complete prior to presenting their projects to the state including the creation of physical regions that would work together as a collective to distribute the monies if received. While most regions rushed to complete each of the steps, others unfortunately couldn’t get full support from necessary counties and leaders. For example, in the 11th hour one fiercely competitive region “Southeast Indiana” couldn’t get all the necessary approvals from Floyd, Washington and Harrison Counties which then forced them to bow out of the race. Others, including Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership worked diligently on getting a consensus of leadership from several counties and joint agencies to compete for the quality of place improvement funds allocated by the state.
INDIANA REGIONAL CITIES: EAST CENTRAL
Today, we are focusing on the presentation that will be submitted for review to the Indiana Regional Cities initiative by the East Central Indiana Regional Development Authority.
Counties: BLACKFORD, DELAWARE, HENRY, JAY, MADISON and RANDOLPH
We love that the regions presentation opens with a one sheet ‘by the numbers’ page making it easy for those who might be just glancing through the proposal. The 58 cities and towns combined provide Indiana with a population of 356,448 (roughly the population of Allen County). Stretching from Pendleton to Portland, the ADVANCE plan covers six east central Indiana counties with Muncie being the centerpiece. A well designed and thought out presentation opens with some serious key findings that the region is comfortable to admit. After a peak population in 1980, the region has slowly declined, with a decrease of nearly 2% since 2000, the hardest hit of all counties is Blackford losing nearly 11% of the population. Another issue for the region is the loss of younger adults, while the number of college-aged residents is higher than the state and national average, the 25-44 segment is smaller by nearly 3%. The region faces an aging issue as well, with the median age of residents moving from 37.2 to 39.8, this is a trend we continue to see around several communities in Indiana. While the statistics continue to stack up against the region in population, another blow comes from the number of families that are disappearing as of late, by nearly 5,500 households since the 2000 census (4%). Good news that the region is excited to share is that of the population 25 and over, levels of educational attainment have increased significantly reporting some college experience or degree. Other positive signs for the region include the growth of per-capita income while increasing slowly, it’s still moving up by nearly 14% since 2000.
The regional economy is worth about $17 billion dollars in annual production, this is a tremendous number for the region to hang their hat on. While the number is great, the concern is that of the region only Madison and Delaware represent the largest suppliers to the annual production coming in at a staggering 67%. The largest sectors for jobs are health care, social services and of course education, but the region is also a leader in STEAM graduates (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts/Architecture and Mathematics). A new area of growth for the region is alternative energy and leaders see this role continuing to expand. The Headwaters Wind Farm in Randolph County produces 200 mega watts of energy per year, over 200 wind turbines produce 400+ megawatts of electricity annually for the region making it a viable resource for the county. In addition to new industry opportunities, available shovel-ready land in the region is abundant, boasting 4,100 acres all connected to one of the states strongest fiber and broadband lines. While the region understands it’s facing an aging population which will significantly impact the workforce, the opportunity is to embrace and retain the potential impact a strong and healthy senior community can provide to the region.
Great assets for the East Central region include the exceptional low cost of living, with the affordability of the region being recognized nationally as the most affordable college town in America. An emerging arts community including the birthplace of Robert Indiana and a strong fine arts program at Ball State all provide a well rounded wealth of opportunity in the region. The abundance of outdoor recreational assets are a true strength and need to be better promoted. With 38 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents and over 120 miles of multi-use trails, the region stands out among others in the state for the natural landscape and recreation options. The region has also declared three benchmark cities in which to measure progress including Bowling Green Kentucky, DeKalb Illinois and Harrisonburg Virginia. Each of these communities have a lot in common in the sense of proximity to a large metro area, similar in population size and have a comparable employment base. The vision for the region is to build a new economy for Indiana and the population that calls the Advance area their home, to create destination communities and to unleash the potential of real estate and skills.
PRIORITY PROJECTS FOR THE ECIRDA
1. Flagship/Purdue Innovation Center – $18.8 Million
A collaborative partnership between Purdue Polytechnic and the Flagship Enterprise Center for sparking ideas, developing new products, building businesses, and growing jobs is a priority project for the region. The facility will be located in Anderson (Madison County) and provide a space, software, and equipment to students, entrepreneurs, and existing businesses for hands-on learning, idea-testing, tinkering, and prototyping. The center is expected to be 90,000 square feet and will include a Creator Space and an Advanced Manufacturing area.
2. Cintas Makers Hub – $2.61 Million
A vacant 85,000 square foot former industrial facility located in the heart of Muncie will be transformed into a regional makers hub. The primary institutional partners in the initiative are the City of Muncie, Ball State University and Indiana University Health/Ball Memorial Hospital. The mission is to simultaneously restore a prominent structure in the downtown district to an attractive, useful facility and reintroduce the maker culture into the community. The theme for the project is expected to attract people and organizations that are inventive, innovative and entrepreneurial.
3. White River Canal District – $47.8 Million
In the last ten years, Muncie has continued to see growth, especially in the downtown core, but there is a serious lack of available housing and high quality of life areas to attract and retain the necessary amount for continued growth. The focus of this redevelopment plan is on providing the necessary urban-style housing options that do not exist in the Central City by building off the existing river and greenway. Plans call for new urban living options, leveraged and connected greenway investments, new restaurants and other lifestyle service businesses such as salons, fitness cafe, yoga studios and a bike shop, increased value and appeal of adjacent historic districts promoting the reinvestment of the Walnut Street Historic District and the Old West End Historic District.
4. 1400 Plaza – $450,000
A multi-purpose space that connects the Historic Jennings adaptive re-use project to the Henry County Arts Park is envisioned in the 1400 Plaza in New Castle. The LA Jennings Building is being converted into 20 apartments and four new restaurants and substaially will increase activity in the downtown area. The Arts Park and library is a great resource for the community and this plaza will help enhance the connectivity to the new residential space. The plaza is bound by Broad, Race, 14th and 15th streets.
5. Creagor Avenue Greenway – $349,000
A new bicycle and pedestrian path down the length of Creagor Avenue in Portland will connect several key community locations including Portland Place senior housings, Katelyn Place low income housing, Haynes Park and the Judge Haynes Elementary School.
6. Robert Indiana Arts & Cultural Campus – $100,000
At the intersection of 15th and Broad Street, banners and signage would direct visitors along a walking trail to the new Robert Indiana Arts & Cultural Campus. New crosswalks at sixteen highly traveled intersections would be stylized, echoing the artwork of Robert Indiana and several new key landscaped areas would be added to the walk. The New Castle-Henry County Public Library would also be involved in the project where a new outdoor clock would be a great gathering space for the local community. Just south of the library is the new centerpiece of the project, where visitors would be welcomed with a sculpture garden and an Indiana obelisk sculpture that says “MURPHEY”, a replica of Indiana’s famous LOVE sculpture and a plaque detailing the life of the beloved artist. An expanded trail would provide access to the Henry County Historical Society and connect with the Rose City Trail.
7. Safe Routes To School – $255,000
The creation of safe ways for children to travel from key parts of the community including the schools, library and community center would be the focus of this project. Building on a Safe Routes to School plan that the city of Portland and INDOT are developing, INDOT is funding 80% of the construction costs and this would assist the city and county to finish the project while enhancing the capabilities.
8. Wigwam Project – $15,535,000
The former Anderson High School and Gymnasium that closed in 2005 has a reputation across the country as the second largest high school gym in the country. The revitalization of the Wigwam (gym) will provide jobs, training, education, health resources and housing to the adjacent low-income community and residents of the county. With a total of 135,000 square feet of space available, the plan calls for 18,000 square feet of vocational/industrial classroom space, 9,500 seat arena, 840 seat auditorium that can be divided tino 4 classroom/practicum spaces, 6,400 square foot health clinic space, 8,200 square foot commercial kitchen and 36,000 square feet of education and training classrooms. The planned second phase will provide much needed improved housing and retail opportunities.
9. Muncie Cultural Trail – $40 Million
The Muncie Redevelopment Commission is working with the city, the Muncie Arts and Culture Council along with Ball State University to create and develop an innovative multi-modal urban trail that will link the city of Muncie’s four cultural districts, enhance recreation and alternative transportation and encourage infill and redevelopment. Known as the Muncie Arts & Culture Trail, the facility is intended to be more than a greenway or bicycle lane, but a multi-use path an urban amenity that will become a branding tool and destination facility for downtown.
10. Downtown Daleville Redevelopment – $4,390,000
Place making improvements are the key to show how other communities this size can attract a private developer to create a mixed use space in downtown. Improvements to Daleville include streetscape elements, sidewalks, streetlights, landscaping, benches, etc. The project includes demolition and redevelopment of the southeast and southwest corners of downtown Daleville.
11. Kitselman Energy Park – $10 Million
The former Indiana Steel and Wire site is a 50+ acre brownfield in the city limits of Muncie. The drive by view of the site shows acres of bare concrete, a landfill and a chainlink fence. The space, once heavy with contamination is now clean ad safe for development. KPEP have developed a $10 million master plan that brings “Live-Work-Play” concepts to the forefront in Muncie. Located on the White River and Cardinal Bike paths with great frontage on highway 32, the site restores and blends residential housing, jobs and recreation.
12. Interstate 69 Bridge Enhancements – $1,700,000
Pendleton is investing funds to construct a bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the interstate that cuts off portions of the community. The bridge will create multi-modla access across Interstate 69 to connect residential neighborhoods and a recreation camping site on the west side to historic downtown Pendleton on the east. The project, while minor is a catalyst for the community to realize the long-range comprehensive plan to expand multi-modal facilities to undeserved areas of the community. INDOT will act as the consultant as it already is planning for the interchanges at Exit 219 and State Road 38 along with intersection improvements the town is planning to construct on State Street just east of the interchange.
13. Pendleton Road Improvements – $3,500,000
The town of Pendleton is investing funds into intersection improvements on State Street adjacent to the growing business parks. The goal is to improve traffic flow and safety, but also include a multi-modal path to connect the business parks to historic downtown Pendleton.
14. Alexandria Park – $440,000
Development of 23 acres as a new city park will enhance the quality of life in Alexandria. The space would provide three bridges over Pipe Creek, trails and picnic areas for community gatherings. The goal is to also create trail heads that would accommodate a northern connection for the Monon Trail and Cardinal Greenway.