Three Regional Cities Initiative projects moving forward in northeast Indiana

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UB Block building
Kil Architecture rendering of the UB Block Building and the Old Fellows Hall at Huntington University

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has approved Regional Cities Initiative funding to support expansion of the Michiana Event Center in Shipshewana, the creation of the Posterity Scholar House in Fort Wayne and the renovation of the UB Block in Huntington. These projects will help provide quality event space, more housing and transportation options for single parent families and another hub for innovation, education and the arts in northeast Indiana, UEDC says in a news release.

Michiana Event Center

The Michiana Event Center is expanding into a large-scale, state-of-the-art entertainment campus in Shipshewana, becoming one the Midwest’s premier destinations for tradeshows, concerts and equine events. Michiana Event Center officials expect the campus to attract approximately 191,000 visitors in its first year of operation and more than 335,000 visitors in its second year.

The event center has been operating in Howe, Indiana, for the past five years, and will move to Shipshewana to increase its size, functionality and capabilities. The event center will enhance the region’s booming tourism industry, drawing businesses and talent to LaGrange County, while providing increased opportunities for northeast Indiana.

Total project investment: $19 million
State funding: $3.8 million

“We’re grateful for the support from the state that will allow this dream project to come to fruition. Shipshewana is already a top destination in Indiana, and the Michiana Event Center will bring new attractions and events that will continue to take our region to the next level,” said event center general manager Jeff Fought.

“The Michiana Event Center will prove to be a transformational project for our community, region and the entire state of Indiana. The state’s innovative approach to economic development via the Regional Cities Initiative has already made a profound impact that will be felt for generations. Regional Cities projects such as the MEC have already begun to generate buzz and will surely help our region attract and retain talent,” said Ryne Krock, president and chief executive officer of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation.

The Posterity Scholar House 

posterity scholar house
Posterity Scholar House rendering

The Posterity Scholar House will be located on the southeast side of Fort Wayne and aims to attract talented lower-income or single-parent families in the northeast Indiana region seeking to obtain a post-secondary education. This project takes a holistic approach to combining affordable housing, transportation, energy independence, education and career training for single-parent families through a unique and consultative relationship with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and the Energy Systems Network.

The Posterity Scholar House at 4209 Plaza Dr. will include 44 apartment units. The project will align with the Indiana Career Council and Department of Workforce Development objectives surrounding industry-sector partnership strategies.

Specifically, this project will connect single-parent students with opportunities in key, critical growth sectors for the northeast region, such as advanced manufacturing, finance, IT and health care. These industry partners will play an active role in creating internships, scholarships and job shadowing opportunities for its residents and is the first concept of its kind within the United States. Construction of the project is expected to be complete by May 2018.

Total project investment: $12.42 million
State funding: $2.48 million

“We are excited about participating in this unique, transformation project that will create opportunities for self-sustainability for some of our most vulnerable citizens and single parents, while also creating a high-tech, sustainable development that can be replicated across other communities in Indiana,” said Gary Hobbs, chief executive officer of BWI Development.

The UB Block

The UB Block will become a centerpiece of regional entrepreneurship and creativity by leveraging the resources, reputation and programming of AP Development LLC, Pathfinder Services and Huntington University and revitalizing a blighted block in downtown Huntington. The UB Block consists of three historic buildings totaling approximately 48,000 sq. ft. at 48 E. Franklin St.

Through this project, Huntington University will move and expand programs that focus on entrepreneurship and economic and civic collaboration to its new space in the UB Block. Pathfinder Services will also relocate and expand its creative Abilities Art Center, an integrated studio and art gallery where artists, with and without disabilities, can work alongside each other to develop their talent, fuel their passions and show and sell their art to the public. AP Development will develop 35 unique market-rate apartments, increasing opportunities to live in a vibrant downtown. Construction of the project is expected to be complete by August 2018.

Total project investment: $8 million
State funding: $1.6 million
(Conditional upon the receipt of federal historic tax credits)

“The rehabilitation of the UB Block is a game-changer for downtown Huntington. Thirty-five market-rate apartments will stimulate downtown residential living. Creative arts space will attract talent that adds vitality to Huntington and Huntington University’s entrepreneurship programs will provide support for new and existing small businesses to populate downtown storefronts,” said Huntington Mayor Brooks Fetters.

Regional Cities Initiative in Northeast Indiana

This project was recommended for funding by the Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) and is part of the region’s Road to One Million plan, which outlines a short-term goal of 38 regional development projects in 11 counties totaling $400 million in quality of place investments, as well as a vision for more than 70 projects and $1.5 billion in public and private investment over the next 10 years. Through this long-term regional development planning, the 11-county region aims to attain one million residents by 2020.

Northeast Indiana was one of three Indiana regions selected to receive state funding through the Regional Cities Initiative, which will allocate a total of $126 million toward 100 quality of place projects totaling more than $2 billion in combined state, local and private investment in order to retain and attract top talent to the Hoosier state.

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