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: CENTRAL
Today, we are focusing on the presentation that will be submitted for review by the Central Indiana Regional Development Authority.
Counties: MARION, BOONE, HAMILTON, HANCOCK, HENDRICKS, JOHNSON, MADISON, MORGAN and SHELBY
The report opens by saying that to stoke the growth of the state's most dynamic region, “already one-third of the population and jobs,” it also accounts for nearly 70% of the population growth in the state over the last decade. As the largest metro in the state, the region is expected to grow the working-age population by 17%. A recent Brookings Institution analysis also shows that nearly two-thirds of the entire science, tech and engineering professions – the workforce that will drive growth in the much-aspired life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and other high-tech industries – live in just the 50 largest regions. The region believes that by investing in the Indianapolis and Central Indiana region, it represents the state’s best opportunity to keep Indiana’s best and brightest and recruit new talent to its ranks.
Some alarming statistics for the Indy region include that recent population growth from 2010 to 2014 puts Indianapolis and Central Indiana in the middle of the pack among the top 100 regions. While it’s 33rd among the top 100 in the current population, growth is stagnant at 42nd. While it compares favorably to other large Midwestern cities like Milwaukee and Columbus, it lags ‘aspirational’ peer regions like Charlotte, Nashville, and Denver. With the decades-long erosion of traditional manufacturing, just since 2005 Central Indiana has lost 16,000 manufacturing jobs. While it may be the largest region in the state, the sincere concern is that there is no stability for the region to grow based on working-age migration from other areas into Indiana and it’s now critical to raising the profile of the region to change the tide. While the report specifically notes that Indianapolis lacks many of the amenities desired by new populations such as mountains, beaches, or a unique cultural heritage the community can thoughtfully enhance its quality of life, encouraging “walkability” and “connected neighborhoods.”
PRIORITY PROJECTS FOR THE CIRDA
1. Regional Transit – Red Line (Electric BRT) Bus Corridor $15 MILLION
The envisioned “Red Line” is a 35-mile Bus Rapid Transit line that will eventually connect Westfield and Carmel through downtown Indianapolis via Broad Ripple and along College Avenue, extending south into Greenwood. Proposed as the nation’s first BRT line using fully-electric vehicles, the Red Line is in the midst of advanced design and engineering and has already attracted federal planning funds. The Phase I Red Line Route reaches 1 of every 4 jobs in the county and specifically along the Phase I line, one of every four houses live in poverty. The Red Line is believed to have an immediate social and economic impact on the mobility and workforce connectivity in the city.
2. 16 TECH – Innovation District near Downtown Indianapolis $10 MILLION
Highly educated talent is increasingly attracted to dense, diverse, walkable communities and employers share the preferences as they select sites when searching for a potential workforce. The 16 Tech Site will be located on the northwest edge of downtown Indy and will support advanced industries like the life science and information tech sectors. Start-ups, applied research organizations, and innovation-focused businesses can co-locate, collaborate, and commercialize new ideas. The Indiana Biosciences Research Institute has also selected 16 Tech as the home for its physical development and has attracted $25 Million from the State of Indiana and $25 Million from private industry thus far. The location is bounded by major public investments including the IUPUI campus, recently completed Eskenazi Hospital and the White River and Fall Creek. The site will feature 715,000 sf of research and innovation space (150,000 to be used for retail, 40,000 sf of Maker Space, 80,000 sf of Lab Space and 35,000 sf of Incubation Space).
3. Central Indiana Trails and Bikeways $5 MILLION
With the recent success of both the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and the Monon Trail, a significant investment to expand the current trail network will benefit the entire region in their goal to be a healthy, attractive place to live. The funds will accelerate progress on nearly 85 miles of additional trails, pathways and bike lanes prioritized by 2025. Projects expected to see some funding if the CIRDA is selected as a recipient include: Fall Creek Greenway Trail (4.7 Miles), Eagle Creek Greenway Trail (1.4 Miles), B&O Trail (1.6 Miles), Midland Trace Trail (0.2 Miles) and will cost nearly $11 Million to complete. Side paths will also see some benefit if the region is selected in the addition of 13 miles reaching communities like Fishers, Lawrence and Zionsville. The largest sidepath project would be the Madison Avenue Side Path stretching over 8 miles from Franklin to Greenwood in Johnson County costing nearly $10 million on its own.
(Photo courtesy of Indy Star)