Regional Cities Initiative Helping

To the right is an article that appeared in The Pilot News, December 18, 2017 discussing the impact of the Regional Cities Initiative. The study was conducted by Ball State University and concluded that it is making a noticeable difference in attracting talented young workers to the area.

Marshall County is part of the North Central Region along with St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties. Most of the funds for our region have been allocated and in Marshall County we’re seeing the impact through assistance in worker housing, manufacturing centers, expanded Boys & Girls Club facilities and an Aquatic Center. In Culver alone, the initiative has helped the Town provide infrastructure to Sand Hill Farm for entry-level housing and money has been set aside for assistance with an E-Commerce center which may provide entrepreneurial opportunities and worker training space. (Culver was in line for additional RCI grants, but the 60% private equity requirement proved daunting for a small community to achieve.)

It’s important to recognize what our local organizations have done to achieve these goals. Marshall County would not have had this opportunity without the foresight of the Marshall County Community Foundation (MCCF) and their initial investment of $10k into the program. That seed money was what put us on the map for this and made the initial connections to St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties. If Linda Yoder hadn’t taking this to the MCCF board and sold it, it wouldn’t have happened.

The hand-off from there went to Marshall County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC). Without their efforts, many of the projects submitted by Marshall County would not have made the list before the application was submitted. Then the follow up to keep the dollars allocated to Marshall County stayed with Marshall County largely came down to the shepherding of Jerry Chavez and MCEDC. They were able to get a reallocation of funds to housing initiatives when original projects fell through and then when one of the four housing projects didn’t come to fruition, they were able to secure the money towards the other projects that were viable.

The money that went to the housing project in Culver helped Culver achieve Stellar Community designation this year. It’s a domino effect and currently the dominos are falling in our direction. This was former Governor Mike Pence’s vision when he spearheaded this program. Inject funds into regions that demonstrate the desire and determination to move forward and great things can happen. Let’s hope this continues to buoy our region, county and communities creating the excitement and drive to move us forward.

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