In April of this year, the legislature appropriated $84 million allowing the State of Indiana to become a financial partner with two winning regions providing up to $42 million in matching funds over two years.

In just four months, seven regions collaborated to develop quality of place and economic development-related projects totaling $3.8 billion in proposed investments. By December, members of the strategic review committee will announce the two winners. Aside from the opportunity, it should be noted that this nine-month effort is an impressively efficient execution of a government program.

The seven applications can be reviewed on the RCI site:

While the funding is a tremendous opportunity, the real prize is that seven regions set aside politics and quickly assembled leadership to collaborate on shared plans for growth. This call to action brought together cities, counties, government, business and local community members to work on a common plan for growth. With such a short time-frame to complete, there was no time for arguing about territorial dominance.

The state’s goal was to provide funding, yes – but similar to a parent who asks the squabbling kids to work on a project together, the effort likely provided more sustainable progress than the outcome itself. There is no question that strong relationships were developed, new perspectives were realized and, regardless of winning – those conversations and collaborations will continue.

More than funding, this program is about “regionalism” and “public-private partnership” (P3) models fully realized. Working together expands perspectives, divides the workload and reduces cost. As taxpayers, let’s promote the continuation of this collaborative momentum.