Additional READI Grant Projects in NW Indiana Approved for Funding

Nine additional projects were recently approved for READI grant dollars by the Northwest Indiana Forum Foundation and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. These projects have met all the necessary requirements to receive READI grant funding, a news release from the Northwest Indiana Forum said. The Northwest Indiana Forum represents Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Jasper, Starke and Pulaski counties.  READI, Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, was launched by Governor Holcomb and led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to encourage regional collaboration and data-driven, long-term planning that will attract and retain talent in Indiana. The $500 million READI fund was passed by legislation during the 2021 session and divided among 17 regions.

The nine newly-approved projects include:
• Valparaiso Community Sports & Recreation Complex-City of Valparaiso –  The City of Valparaiso along with its Redevelopment Commission and Park Department are planning a new community recreation and sports complex, and this project implements a master plan for the 248-acre park, plus an adjacent 180 acres for private investment and job creation around the existing St. Mary’s Medical Center. Phase I design of the park includes outdoor fields/courts, an activities hub, playgrounds, and a trail system.

• Northwest Indiana Housing Study-Indiana University Northwest – An extensive analysis of the current housing market and inventory and construction mix as well as the changing dynamics of local markets. The study will identify strengths and weaknesses in the housing market of Northwest Indiana to support regional development organizations as well as the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS in advocating for and developing specific housing strategies across the seven-county region to better meet future economic growth, the news release said.

• Quantum Corridor–Digital Crossroads – “The Quantum Corridor will create the first Coherent communication network in the State of Indiana,” the announcement said, a network designed to be quantum ready and once completed will be among the fastest and most secure networks in the world.

• Downtown Hammond Train Station & Station Square -City of Hammond – The Downtown Hammond Train Station & Station Square will be an elevated train station, described as a “park-like interface between downtown Hammond and the station. The square will have a green space to the south and an urban plaza, anchored by retail and commerce, to the north. A new street will be created to connect Russell St. and Fayette St., creating better connectivity.”

• Ivy Tech Energy Technology Mobile Unit – Ivy Tech has initiated partnerships with developing companies and plans to develop a mobile training unit designed to deliver remote instruction for students to meet workforce needs in renewable energy. This mobile unit would be built to simulate an on-campus lab space, equipped with technical classroom equipment and also electrical and renewable energy trainers.

• Region Roots Local Farm and Food Hub-NWI Food Council – The Region Roots Local Farm and Food Hub serves the needs of small-mid scale farmers trying to access wholesale markets. The hub provides an online platform where farmers list their products/inventory and local bulk buyers are able to purchase from multiple farms, with streamlined invoicing and delivery.

• Work-Based Learning Expansion (Internships)-Center of Workforce Innovations –  The expansion of work-based learning (WBL) opportunities across the region through increased internship and apprenticeship programs has been identified as a priority in the Ignite the Region economic development plan as well as the 21st Century Talent Region initiative. This project seeks to expand current internship, apprenticeship, and other work-based learning opportunities in the Region.

• Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem-Society of Innovators at Purdue University Northwest – The Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest is leading the development of a Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem to break down barriers to innovation and entrepreneurship, the news release said. Over the next three years, the Society of Innovators expects to hire a youth program director, expand summer programming, establish afterschool programs, train educators on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, and launch a new regional competition.

• Tolleston Opportunity Hub – The Tolleston Opportunity Hub brings together five partners: Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana, Crossroads YMCA, Methodist Hospitals, City of Gary, and the Dean and Barbara White Foundation to deliver spaces and programs that focus on education, social services, childcare, health/wellness, physical activity, talent development, entrepreneurship and economic advancement.