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: NORTHERN
Today, we are focusing on the presentation that will be submitted for review to the Indiana Regional Cities initiative by the Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority.
Counties: ST. JOSEPH, ELKHART, and MARSHALL
So far, the only report we have read (up to this point) that opens with a vision statement, and this is something we like. “Northern Indiana is a knowledge-driven, highly connected region that serves and provides access to a global innovation economy. We will be recognized for our World-Class Higher Education and Community Partnerships, Superior Access and Connectivity, and High-Performing Communities. Northern Indiana is the proud home to Notre Dame, and will become a region of connected hubs.”
In Section 4 of the Executive Summary, the Northern Region openly admits that the region is attracting a variety of people, Northern Indiana’s population growth is expected to slow and/or decline over the next couple of decades. An even harder statistic is that between now and 2030, the region will experience a negative population growth of nearly 1.04%. The median age of the region is also an issue as it has climbed from 36.6 to 38.9, which to many doesn’t stand out, but the continued aging means a declining workforce as companies are looking to relocate or expand. Overall, Northern Indiana’s GDP and per capita income growth lag state and national rates, and the region is facing a shortage of skilled workers.
While the statistics can look alarming, the Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority has much to be proud of in recent years. Talent retention programs such as Enfocus, a talent incubator, and social innovation engine based out of the Union Station Technology Center in South Bend aims to find new solutions that serve regional industries with new talent and spur economic development to communities. Notre Dame has spent an average of $95 million per year on construction for the last 6 years and will spend an average of $237 million for the next three. This is a total investment of nearly $1.281 billion in less than 10 years to the greater South Bend area. The university has also invested over $625 million in the Northeast Neighborhood since the partnership with the city began focused on revitalizing the neighborhood. Environmental research programs at St. Patrick’s County Park, a new boathouse on the St. Joseph River and the famed Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture all have provided a fresh breath into the city. Millrace in Goshen, Elkhart robotics and STREAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture, and Mathematics) programs available to raise education levels and the expansion of Metronet dark fiber to Plymouth in Marshall County have all improved the tech and innovation ranks for the region.
PRIORITY PROJECTS FOR THE NIRDA
1. SOUTH BEND INNOVATION DISTRICT
The goal is to develop Northern Indiana into a global center for technology companies and technologists. The Innovation District is located at the southern edge of downtown and features three core areas in Ignition Park, Renaissance District, and Four Winds Field. The region is proudly promoting this as “from the rust belt to the tech belt” as it sees new construction and inspiring millennials begin to call South Bend home.
A. What is Ignition Park –
The 140-acre technology, research and manufacturing center built on the former Studebaker site is a key component to the larger Innovation District. This is one of the locations making up Indiana’s first two-site State-Certified Technology Park.
B. What is Renaissance District –
Studebaker and South Bend go together like Andrew Luck and the Colts. The reclamation of the remaining Studebaker facilities now features the highly regarded Union Station Technology Center. Over 300 companies leverage the data center at Union Station every day. The new center development surrounding Union Station will feature a live-work environment and offer commercialization technologies attractive to growing firms and help companies identify new ways to create cutting-edge technologies, products, and services for the overall global marketplace.
Studebaker Building 113 – Phase II will leverage the platform being built in the Renaissance District offering multiple education partners space and the investments needed to fully occupy the building with the goal of making South Bend Technologically Relevant. Projects include the Indiana University Health Education Active Learning Lab, Purdue University Polytechnic Institute, South Bend Code School, Additive Manufacturing Demonstration & Training Center, The STREAM Factory (Michiana Science and Tech Center), St. Joe CEO Program in partnership with Gallup and Enfocus.
Studebaker Building 84 – Phase III is a $102 million project that will provide for reuse of Building 84 as a national data center, research, and technology grade office space and residential apartments. A total of 545,500 square feet of space, it will provide a live-work environment for millennials, technologists, and researchers.
Studebaker Administration Building project is an independent facility that will serve as an office space for a major technology company. It will reuse a vacant 145,500 square foot space and enhance the neighborhood to serve as an economic magnet, providing work and retail opportunities conducive for millennials, technologists, and professional workers.
C. What is Four Winds Field –
Just north of the growing Renaissance District, the Four Winds Field ballpark has developed substantially over the past three years, with plans for the transformation to continue in the blocks surrounding. Four acres of land surrounding the field will be developed into a “mixed-use” entertainment project by developer Berlin.
2. SOUTH BEND BLUE WAYS, EAST BANK VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT
A growing area of downtown South Bend that is well positioned to leverage the St. Joseph River will benefit if the region is selected by the Indiana Regional Cities board. From the South Bend Farmers Market to Seitz Park and the East Race the area will leverage over $40 million in private development improving and enhancing the current housing stock. The project includes Riverwalk upgrades, Howard Park Improvements, Cloverleaf Removal, Sewer Infrastructure upgrades, Residential Development of the former Transpo site into 90 units of attached and detached urban housing, Construction of the River Race Flats (8,000 square feet of retail space, 9,000 square feet of office space and 32 apartment units), the Notre Dame Boat House and Armory Regional Culinary Hub and Lofts. New amenities to Howard Park will also include a community center, ice rink, amphitheater, sand volleyball courts and mini-marina.
3. SOUTH SHORE TRAIN
Connecting Chicago is a $270 million eight-year project supported by an inter-regional collaboration that recognizes in working together, they will most efficiently and effectively be able to leverage the asset of the South Shore Line. The project is set in phases with the first focused on infrastructure projects between South Bend and Michigan City, upgrading the last 21 miles of aging overhead power distribution, 8.3 miles of rail, extended Bircham Siding with hi-speed turnouts and additional safety improvements. Trains also navigate a reverse “C” in order to access the South Bend International Airport terminal from the east. The route is long and trains are slowed by nearly 25-grade crossings, the realignment project would provide a more direct route to the west side of the airport terminal by eliminating three track miles, reducing travel time by up to ten minutes, and cutting the number of crossings to 7.
4. METRONET EXTENSION
High-speed access to the St. Joe Valley Metronet involves the construction of new dark fiber in Elkhart and Marshall Counties. New conduit and fiber would offer state-of-the-art telecommunications connectivity to all areas of the region, including the rural and suburban areas most in need. With South Bend vying to become the largest tech center in the Midwest, a vibrant and expanded extension of high-speed fiber is necessary to remain and be competitive.
5. ELKHART MARKET DISTRICT
The transformation of downtown Elkhart into a vibrant, full-service city center by providing the full scope of services, recreation, residential and commercial amenities the community has envisioned is essential to the region's economic prosperity. The city continues to move toward a vision of a healthy, walkable downtown and the plan calls for development over several phases. The first is to repurpose a shopping center, construct over 400 housing units (the first new housing in downtown since 1980) and develop a mixed-use residential and commercial complex. The next phase would be to construct a centralized $30 Million Wellness Center and Natatorium located only a block from the city center, the new center would draw event participants from a radius of more than 200 miles for swim competitions. Phase 3 is to connect the RiverWalk to the Mapleheart Trail, connecting two communities with a multi-use trail. The final phase and a key component of the project are to construct an outdoor field sports complex downtown along the river with six public outdoor multi-use fields, a public championship field venue and both turf and court activities all anchored with a new downtown hotel that could welcome out of town guests.
6. ENTREPRENEURSHIP CENTERS
The Marshall County Entrepreneurship Center/Business incubator plans to establish two centers in both Culver and Plymouth. Both will utilize dark fiber served via the Metronet Extension and leverage the education platform with various Indiana universities.
7. BETHEL COLLEGE FREE ENTERPRISE CENTER
A 4,000 square foot addition of dedicated conference space will provide an area to serve as an incubator for local businesses and start-ups. The addition will also feature the college’s academic business department. The location and the center's flexibility will provide much needed conferencing space for the region while offering the amenities of Bethel College and their business department.
8. IU SOUTH BEND HEALTHLINC
Renovations and expansion of an 11,250 square foot community Health and Wellness Center on the IU South Bend Campus will benefit the region with an expanded community health clinic. The expansion will provide access to primary medical and behavioral health services in addition to dental services for a population of students, faculty, and staff at IU South Bend as well as the underserved and disadvantaged populations in the local community.
9. SOUTH BEND RIVER HYDROPOWER PROJECT
The University of Notre Dame will construct a 1.83-megawatt hydropower facility on the city-owned dam in downtown. The power from the facility will be conveyed to campus by way of an underground transmission line, reducing campus carbon emissions, increase electric reliability, provide academic research and create stronger partnerships with local governments.
10. JOB TRAINING CENTER
A new Job Training Center in Marshall County will work with the Plymouth Community School Corporation in conjunction with the North Central Area Vocational Cooperative, Work One and Marshall County Economic Development Corporation. The center will be built in the old Lincoln Junior High in Plymouth and offer education to present employees who may need additional training and high school students from all Marshall County schools. The Job Training Center is expected to increase residents and businesses access to workforce and job training support which will enhance regional productivity.
11. COMMERCE CENTER MIXED USE DEVELOPMENT
The South Bend Commerce Center Flats is a mixed-use development that has been proposed in the East Bank village area. Adding 250 residential units, a full-service grocery store, and a pharmacy, the current facility is a 100-year-old building that houses several; technology and medical companies, the opportunity to provide additional infill will be supported by excellent fiber internet connectivity.
12. MISHAWAKA IRONWORKS PLAZA
233 market rate luxury residential units, 11,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and a 390+ space parking structure will be the featured property on 2.5 acres near the Beutter Park Riverfront in downtown Mishawaka. The project creates density and will increase social connectivity by creating a centrally located space for residents and visitors to live, shop, work and play in one of the region's urban cores.
13. ELKHART ENTERTAINMENT AND EXHIBITION SPACE
Elkhart is known for their Recreational Vehicles, yet any space designed to host events around this industry just doesn’t exist. The project will include a hotel, convention center, office building and stadium located in the heart of Elkhart. Space will be an amenity for area residents and will support the region’s goal of high-impact communities by providing a space for resident recreation and tourism attraction.
14. GOSHEN THEATER RESTORATION
This 750 seat historic performing arts theater, closed in 1968 and ever since has suffered decay, water damage, and historic facade removal. The project will fully renovate the facility saving the community’s shared heritage and bringing new life to the region, restoring the historic cultural amenity and providing a source of entertainment.
15. GOSHEN AMPHITHEATER
The River Race Area redevelopment in Goshen is looking to complete its final piece with the construction of an open air amphitheater on the west side of the Millrace Canal. The site is currently 9-acres of open green space adjacent to the city greenway and blocks from the historic downtown. The site will maintain a natural feel with an open stage and seating in the grass offering a public space for many to showcase the arts, attract visitors and provide an amenity that is currently lacking in the city.
16. APEX CLIMBING AND FITNESS
The areas first full-featured indoor climbing facility will provide bouldering, top-roping and lead climbing opportunities for all ages. Climbing related activities such as a ropes challenge course, parkour, ninja warrior, Crossfit, basic cardio, massage, yoga, after school programs, day camps for kids and special events can all be held at the event making it a center for the entire family.
17. PLYMOUTH AQUATICS CENTER
Programming for recreation, education, health, rehabilitation and competitive sports on a year-round basis will be held at the newly constructed Plymouth Aquatics Center. The center would feature three pools, an outpatient rehabilitation suite, and community accessible exercise facility. Plans call for this facility to team with the planned Elkhart Natatorium and drive the region as a swimming sports tourism destination.
18. TENNIS COURTS AND PARK PAVILION EXPANSION
The Plymouth Youth Tennis and Pickle Ball Courts and Park Pavilion expansion project would add a much needed four new 36′ courts for a youth league, a new Senior Pickle Ball League, and regional competitions. The enhanced and expanded park pavilion will also allow the community to hold regional tournaments management and planning, city lesson & league operations.
19. TRAIL SYSTEM
The expansion of the Marshall County Trail System will create a regional connection by linking the Lake Max Bike Trail, Culver/Plymouth Trail, and an extension to Ancilla and connection to the Nickle Plate Trail which currently runs from Rochester to Kokomo
20. INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS
The project will include a water and sanitary sewer trunk line, electric distribution system and roadway construction in Plymouth for a new industrial park. The project will prepare several greenfield sites for new development and will improve the regional economy as more businesses will expand into Marshall County.
21. SHELL BUILDINGS
A project that is being developed in the region is to attract new business and industry, while filling the void in the marketplace for “move in” ready buildings. The plan is to construct 4 shell buildings in various communities throughout Marshall County that will allow the region to be more competitive while attracting and landing new industries looking to locate.
22. BOYS & GIRLS CLUB
Developed based on community needs and to make the current Club more efficient, the dilapidated old restaurant building that has served as the Boys & Girls club in Plymouth will be razed and a new Clubhouse will be dedicated to innovating new programming. The one-floor building will provide safe, attractive, supervised and accessible spaces for youth in the community. It will also serve as a tool to help integrate more Hispanic residents into the population served by the club.