With much anticipation, the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative bids are now due to the state of Indiana and last night, we all got a sneak peek of what to expect. Tim Pape of Carson Boxberger energized the crowd with his cheerleader stylized chant “No To Slow, No To No, Yes To Grow, Yes To Go!” A crowd of 200+ community and business leaders from all over the 11 county region stretching from Warsaw to Angola, Fort Wayne and Berne gathered in the beautiful new Mirro Center at Parkview Hospital. Everyone in attendance came to their feet and applauded the efforts of the entire committee who worked diligently for over 100 days non-stop on preparing our bid to win the $42 Million in Indiana Regional Cities funding.
“Today, we are more than halfway to the finish line” said John Sampson Executive Director of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. As the evening moved on, we were given information prepared by world leading economists Fourth Economy including the opportunities we have as a region if we change our mindset and focus on growth. Sampson and John Urbahns both exclaimed that because of the collaborative efforts from over 33 cross-sector Steering Committee members, 150 county working group participants, unanimous support of the 105-member Regional Opportunities Council members, Mayors’ and Commissioners’ Caucus, Legislative Delegation, Local Economic Development Organzation Council and the Millennial Leaders Alliance representing the collective, economic interests of eleven counties of Northeast Indiana that our application represents a decade of proactive, intentional effort to build a powerful regional collaborative that will step up and accept the challenge of being an Indiana Regional Cities community.The Road To One Million goal represents the vision to grow the population in the Northeast Indiana region from 780,000 today to 1,000,000 residents by 2031. Knowing that if we follow the current trends and growth rate we are expected to only grow by 53,000 in the next ten years, the vision of those involved will help us change that pace and help turn Northeast Indiana into a regional economic powerhouse. This would include an increase of 120,000 workers into the economy, a full doubling of our real GDP, an additional 40,000 children under 17, nearly 100,000 new young adults, 143,000 more housing units, 119% growth among adults with a degree and more!
The following projects were presented to the crowd last night and include a mix of prioritized projects that support the principles set forth by the IEDC (Indiana Economic Development Corporation). Some of the projects are both large and small but will all provide a great impact to the Northeast Indiana Region. In two years, the region will implement 38 projects totaling $400 million in investment. In total, the plan represents over $1.4 billion in projects. All of the items fall into four categories
CONNECTION TO NATURE: Greenways and Blueways such as the Regional Trail Network and Fort Wayne Riverfront Development.
CONNECTION TO COMMUNITY: Downtown and Community development projects that make the region a great place to live by investing $40 million per community in redevelopment and revitalization.
CONNECTION TO CULTURE: Arts and culture projects that support cultural districts across the entire Northeast Indiana region that build on the individual assets of the communities involved.
CONNECTION TO IDEAS: Education and industry driven projects that will help retain and attract entrepreneurs and the much needed student base. These include no less than five co-working incubator spaces anchored in downtowns across the region.
A list of projects that will expect to get match funding to begin within the two year time frame are listed in no specific order:
Fort Wayne Riverfront Development (Ft. Wayne) – $68 Million for the first phase which will include a promenade on both the north and south banks of the St. Mary’s River, expansion of Lawton Park, location of a rail-themed attraction and a large parking structure due to the displacement of surface lots.
Regional Trail Network – $72 Million for the development of nearly 110 additional miles of trails across every county represented in the RDA.
Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Complex (Kendallville) – Phase 2 of the center will include four additional softball/baseball fields to build on the successful first phase. A mobile community stage to support concerts, movies in the park and a children’s theater will also be included.
Decatur Nature Preserve and Greenway (Decatur) – A 40 acre nature preserve new downtown Decatur located along the River Greenway trail system will be a centerpiece for the thriving county seat.
Blue River/Eel River Canoe & Kayak Launches (Columbia City / North Manchester) – These two bookend launch points will connect paddlers to historic downtowns in Columbia City and North Manchester and their current/planned trail systems.
Roann Covered Bridge Park (Roann) – A park will highlight the historic covered bridge, create a gateway into downtown Roann and provide ample space for an expanded farmers market.
The Landing (Ft. Wayne) – A $20 million project will help redevelop seven buildings and two parking lots on West Columbia Street in the heart of Fort Wayne. The buildings will become mixed-use with a common theme and branding.
North Buffalo Streetscape and Redevelopment (Warsaw) – Infrastructure improvements within a two block area stretching from downtown to the lakefront, including redevelopment of the old Warsaw water treatment plant.
400 East Washington (Ft. Wayne) – The entire block will be available for redevelopment including housing, retail and office space with a planned 45 residential units in the existing warehouse and 30 newly constructed units and row houses.
McMillen Park Scholar House and Grand Family Housing (Ft. Wayne) – A much needed redevelopment of 23 acres inside city limits which will include 50 new units of housing for families pursuing an education while raising children and 22 units for grandparents who are primary care-givers.
Huntington UB and Opera Block Redevelopment (Huntington) – Three historic buildings in downtown Huntington will be redeveloped to feature retail and potential office or residential space located across from the courthouse.
Rock City Lofts (Wabash) – Historic building renovation in downtown Wabash into 41 senior apartments with a first floor senior center.
Columbia City Aquatics Facility (Columbia City) – New outdoor aquatics facility that will include two water slides, play features for children, a six lane lap pool, vortex water feature and a grassy area to host picnics or other recreational activities.
Gatke Power Plant Redevelopment (Warsaw) – A vacant power plant in Warsaw will be converted into much needed community meeting space with supporting entertainment and micro-brewery.
Manchester Early Learning Center (North Manchester) – A new state-of-the-art facility will accommodate over 100 children, alleviating the current 54-child waiting list.
Warsaw-Winona Gateway (Warsaw) – Gateway beautification along Argonne Road will include a redesigned railroad underpass, “right-sizing” the driving lanes, sidewalks, streetscaping and a new roundabout at Kings Highway.
Bluffton Community Re-Investment Program (Bluffton) – A new matching program to support exterior facade improvements, interior improvements and demolition where needed in the city of Bluffton.
Wabash Playground (Wabash) – The specially designed playground will cater to children of all abilities and needs and connect to the nearby River Greenway Trail system.
Downtown Decatur Facade Improvements (Decatur) – Facade Improvement program will complement other downtown improvements, such as streetscaping, parking, and the sculpture tour.
Performing Arts Center (Bluffton) – A new live entertainment venue that would catalyze riverfront development and connect to the riverfront trail system would be a focal point for Bluffton residents and businesses.
Wagon Wheel Center For The Arts (Warsaw) – Expansion of the Warsaw arts magnet would include a symphony performance hall, visiting artist housing, education program spaces, studios and galleries.
Embassy Theatre (Ft. Wayne) – The remaining four hotel floors need to be renovated. The building has sat unused for more than forty years and the renovation would include ballrooms, rehearsal spaces, classrooms and a rooftop garden in downtown Fort Wayne.
Vice Presidential Museum and Learning Center (Huntington) – National center would be located in Huntington near the university offering education to visitors on the Office of the Vice President.
2nd Street Lofts (Decatur) – This co-work space would be located in downtown Decatur and include 30 affordable apartments targeted at artists and entrepreneurs.
Eagles Theater (Wabash) – Redevelopment of the second and third floors would allow the community to have a home for arts organizations and even provide much needed event space.
Clyde Theater (Ft. Wayne) – Redevelopment of the former Clyde Movie Theater in the Quimby Village Shopping Center that will include a multi-purpose arts and entertainment center. It will offer concerts and events a 2,200 standing capacity space.
South Whitley Arts Initiative (South Whitley) – Redevelopment of several downtown structures to leverage the presence of Fox Products as well as the creation of a downtown amphitheater.
Achbold-Wilson Park (Ossian) – New amphitheater located in Ossian would serve as an interactive and flexible community space designed to host several year round activities.
IPFW Center for Leadership (Ft. Wayne) – The new education building on the campus of IPFW will house the Doermer School of Business, the Hospitality Management Program, a public visual and performing arts gallerty and the IPFW Center for Leadership.
City Campus (Ft. Wayne) – A public-private partnership between Wunderkammer Company and Ivy Tech Northeast to support development, attraction, and retention of creative talent by developing a culinary incubator, live/work spaces, and arts studios and galleries.
University of Saint Francis (Ft. Wayne) – Revitalization of two historic buildings in downtown Fort Wayne will accomodate the School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership and the School of Creative Arts Music Technology, which will bring 300 students, faculty and staff to downtown.
Food Innovation Center (Bluffton) – A new 40,000 square foot center for innovators, the education of the workforce in the food industry and the expansion and value-added abilities within the entire Northeast Indiana food network.
Northern Lakes Country Enterprise Center (Angola) – Conversion of an existing 70,000 sf complex located on nearly 5 acres of land in Angola into a business incubator space. The building will include co-working space and a dedicated industrial training facility, complete with welding and CNC machining training equipment.
The Marina Entrepreneurial Center (Ft. Wayne) – A join venture between Saint Francis and the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center would house co-working space, business accelerator and immersive entrepreneurial programs.
Huntington University Digital Media Arts Program (Huntington) – Relocation of the program to a historic downtown structure would support entrepreneurship services for students and house the Digital Media Arts Program
Little Crow (Warsaw) – Renovate a historic building in downtown Warsaw to support new orthopedic companies.
Library Maker Spaces (Regional) – Creation of a variety of maker-space facilities in libraries across the region that will provide the community access to 3D printing, electronics, recording, artistic, engineering, and design equipment.
In less than 10 years, the City of Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana have seen over $470 Million in public-private investments. We can do this because we are the contender in a land full of kings!