O’Brien: Boosting development, quality of life through strategic investment


It is no secret that the Hoosier businesses and workforce that make our state so great are what fuel Indiana’s economic engine – and right now it’s supercharged. From the small businesses on Main Street to the powerhouse Toyota plant, our area is burgeoning with opportunity. To make sure our region is well-positioned for continued growth, I recently supported expanding the state’s transformational investments into our communities.

Through the Indiana Regional Acceleration and Development Initiative, or READI 2.0, the state encouraged neighboring counties to team up and create a vision for the future to qualify for funding to help make it happen. The Southwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, which represents Vanderburgh, Warrick, Gibson and Posey counties, stepped up to the plate and recently received the maximum READI award of $45 million. The region is focused on growing our population, attracting new, high-paying job opportunities and skilled workers, improving quality of life and providing upward mobility to low-income Hoosiers.

In total, the state awarded 17 regions across the state a total of $500 million to continue to boost quality of life, quality of place and quality of opportunity. This program is expected to have a significant return on investment of nearly $11 billion in public, private and philanthropic matching funding. This successful program has been key in boosting economic development throughout our region.

In the last round of READI funding awarded to the southwest region, many projects we announced including expanding the nursing program at the University of Southern Indiana and Doctor of Clinical Psychology program at University of Evansville, increasing student housing and classroom space near the Evansville Medical District Campus, and supporting the IU School of Medicine Evansville’s efforts to address crisis‐level shortages in child mental health services and workforce needs. Other projects range from a transformational riverfront expansion and city block at 5th and Main in downtown Evansville to a dog park facility within Woodmere Park. In total, there have been 10 quality of life, six quality of place and seven quality of opportunity projects in our region.

The READI program represents a record state investment and commitment to our local communities, so that we remain future-focused and positioned for growth. It’s great to see our local leaders across our region worked together to create a data-driven, long-term plan that is certain to create even more opportunities for Hoosiers and businesses in our area. To learn more visit evansvilleregion.com/readi.

Improving economic development and quality of life are critical in attracting and retaining talent for our community, which in turn helps all our local businesses. As your state legislator, I am always looking for ways to continue these important initiatives so that Southwest Indiana remains a great place to live, work and raise a family. If you have ideas for ways to improve our community or new projects, please reach out by calling 317-232-9619 or by emailing h78@iga.in.gov.