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Fate Of Regional Cities Funding Is Uncertain

City of Fort Wayne
Riverfront development is one of the proposed projects in the Road to One Million plan.

Representatives from Evansville, Fort Wayne and South Bend testified before a House committee Wednesday in support of fully funding the Regional Cities Initiative. The House’s final decision may come down to the wire.

The original initiative planned to provide $84 million from the state’s tax amnesty program to the winning regions.

But that program brought in more money than expected, so Gov. Mike Pence announced he intended to have an additional $42 million distributed by the legislature to the winning regions.

The proposal to fully fund the three regions remains in a House committee after voting was rescheduled, even though it easily passed the Senate last month.

Brenda Brumfield of the Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce testified in support of the proposal, even though the East Central region didn’t receive any money.

“But we’re here because we believe in the process and the vision that you have to try to help our communities, and in doing so we have helped ourselves, in spite of the face that we have not been funded,” she said.

Leaders from the three winning regions also supported the bill, saying it would be an investment not just in the communities, but the entire state.

Susan Mendenhall, president of Arts United, represented Fort Wayne at the committee and said funding from the proposal could help attract young people to the state.

“People will either choose to live in Indiana or they won’t, and we want to tip the balance of that choice,” Mendenhall said.

The committee has until Monday to vote on the bill.

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