SOUTH BEND —Back in the spring of 2016, then Indiana Gov. Mike Pence strolled into the majestic, but aging Goshen Theater and ceremoniously signed the Regional Cities Initiative bill.
It was a big moment for the South Bend-Elkhart region as Pence’s signature brought with it $42 million to help spark economic development and quality of life enhancements in St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties.
It was one of three such grants awarded in the state, the others being the Fort Wayne and Evansville regions.
Now, 19 months later, Regional Cities of Northern Indiana has earmarked its money for 26 projects it hopes will both grow the region’s economic profile as well as attract and retain talent.
And, local leaders say it is paramount that they continue the cooperation across county lines that Regional Cities has fostered.
“The goal of regional cities was population growth, quality of life, talent attraction,” said John DeSalle, a vice president at Hoosier Tire who serves on the five-person Regional Development Authority charged with selecting the projects and allocating the money. “We want to make the community a place where people want to move.”
The result is a lineup of projects anchored by municipal and private investment, many of which are well underway. They range from new housing developments, to a world class aquatic center in Elkhart, to theater renovations, to façade improvements, to city park and path upgrades.
A needed boost
Down in Plymouth, a new housing development is one project that received money from the initiative.
Architect Scott Sivan is a managing partner of the River Gate South complex that’s under construction in downtown Plymouth. He said the development — three buildings on the bank of the Yellow River —will fill a need for Marshall County employers by adding executive-style housing that can help attract new residents.
The project received $1,410,384 from Regional Cities.
But that’s only part of it.