Two Indiana communities have been designated by the Lieutenant Governor to receive help funding revitalization projects. Bedford and Richmond were selected as the two winners of the 2013 Stellar Communities program, which is a collaboration among the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and the Indiana Department of Transportation.
“It was a way to look at pooling sources to communities to fund their long term comprehensive strategic goals in targeted areas of their community,” said Public Information Officer Emily Duncan of The Housing and Community Development Authority.
“So instead of having to go to each individual agency to apply for funding, they could kind of do one grand proposal, and then see what could happen for their communities.”
Duncan says Bedford and Richmond’s proposals, which suggest nearly $20 million each in improvements, impressed officials during the selection process. Each proposal included efforts to revitalize the two communities’ downtown areas with projects like business development, bike trails and murals.
“We just finished the 2013 designation round which was the third year for the program,” explained Duncan.
“We put out a request for proposals, so any community that is not a entitlement community, meaning they do not receive funds from the federal government directly themselves, so they had to be a (inaudible) of government could submit a letter of interest. We received 24 community’s proposals for this coming run. Then after we evaluated those, then the top six, which was what we called ‘finalist communities,’ which required a little bit of further information, and then say business was conducted by the staff by each of the agencies.”
Funding for the designation program comes from multiple existing federal funds, and both cities have proposed projects that involve public and private dollars. While no amount of funding is actually guaranteed, Duncan says the initiative is important because it makes the process of accessing funds easier.
“I think that is what is important for Indiana. This is a wonderful, groundbreaking designation program that really paired three agencies together and showed kind of a new wave for federal, state, and local dollars to come together for the combined efforts of vision for different communities.”
“In fact,” continued Duncan. “This dollar designation program was nationally recognized last year and received the presidential award for innovation from the council and state community development agencies.”
The Stellar Communities Program was started in 2011 and is a collaboration among the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, The Indiana Housing, Community Development Authority and the Indiana Department of Transportation and Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann.