FORT WAYNE — The board of the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority voted to put $423,183 in Regional Cities Initiative money into two Wells County projects Monday afternoon.

Wells County Revitalization Committee will receive its requested $226,023 to complete the Parlor City Plaza, which will be built this summer on the west side of the Wells County Courthouse. An additional $197,160 will go toward the amphitheater and pavilion which will be built in Ossian’s Archbold-Wilson Park.

The RDA is the agency that reviews funding requests in the 11 counties of northeast Indiana. It is distributing the $42 million granted to the area out of the state’s Regional Cities program.

Wells County was the last of the 11 counties to receive funding for any projects.

The process is not quite finished, however. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. actually controls the money and the RDA board reviews and recommends the funding. Michael Galbraith, director of the Road to One Million program sponsored by the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and the primary staffer for the RDA board, said the projects will now be sent to the IEDC for its review. Assuming the IEDC approves, the RDA will enter into what’s called a sub-recipient agreement for the money.

Galbraith said none of the projects recommended by the RDA have been turned down by the IEDC.

One of the four RDA board members approving the projects Monday was Gene Donaghy of Ossian, and he was very happy to approve a Wells County project for the first time during his service on the board.

“This is just the start for Wells County,” Donaghy said after the vote.

He noted the infrastructure improvements in Bluffton and other plans elsewhere in the county, adding, “I think this is a great opportunity for Wells County to keep things going.”

The Wells County projects were formally presented to the RDA board in January during a meeting at the Wells County Arts, Commerce and Visitors Centre in Bluffton. The projects were expected to be approved last month but the RDA meeting was postponed until Monday due to a lack of a quorum.

Monday’s meeting was held at the NEIRP offices in downtown Fort Wayne to be sure a quorum would be present. As it was, only four of the five members of the RDA board — Jeff Turner, Donaghy, Andrew Briggs, and Brad Bishop — were present.

“Recommending funding for projects in all 11 counties in Northeast Indiana is a huge accomplishment for the RDA board and the region,” Bishop, the president of the board, said in a statement after the meeting. “The spirit of regionalism is truly alive here in Northeast Indiana, and the Grow Wells County project and the leveraged funds allocated by the RDA are great examples of what we can do when we work together to grow the region’s economy and population.”

Chad Kline, Wells County’s director of economic development, spoke for the people behind the two projects in thanking the RDA board for its support.

“Rural communities like Bluffton, Ossian and others throughout Wells County and Northeast Indiana must benefit from investment in quality of life to continue to attract and retain talent,” Kline said. “I applaud the RDA board and the individuals behind the Grow Wells County project for securing this critical funding.”
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