The Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) announced December 30, 2019 that its regional plan, which was submitted to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) in September, has been approved.
The plan is the result of more than nine months of engaging hundreds of residents and stakeholders from all corners of the five counties (Clark, Floyd, Jefferson, Scott and Washington) which make up the region. Targeted efforts were made to ensure that each county and municipality had an equal opportunity to provide input in the process and all were considered in the final priorities and project lists.
The plan, entitled Our Region – Our Plan, includes seven priorities for the region. They are:
- CONNECTIONS – Enhance connections throughout the local communities, counties, and broader region by improving safety, function, and efficiencies for all modes of transportation including vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian, rail, intermodal, freight, and aviation networks.
- DESTINATIONS- Create and nurture great destinations for present and future residents and visitors.
- ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – Pursue catalytic development that spurs investment in the region’s jobs, housing, public spaces, and infrastructure.
- GOVERNMENT – Encourage collaboration among organizations, agencies, and local government.
- INFRASTRUCTURE – Ensure that the region’s utility infrastructure systems respect and protect the area’s natural resources while providing high quality, efficient, and effective services to current and future residents and businesses.
- NATURAL ASSETS – Promote the preservation and celebration of the region’s unique natural features and environmentally sensitive areas.
- WORKFORCE – Align education and workforce development opportunities to strengthen job growth and ensure that the region’s workforce adequately fulfills the employment opportunities available within the region.
The Our Southern Indiana RDA board has been meeting since December of 2017. The board was formed according to state statute by the commissioners of all five counties and representatives were unanimously chosen. They are:
- Chair Kevin Kellems, business & public affairs consultant, Jefferson County
- Dana Huber, Huber’s Orchard, Winery, & Vineyards and the Starlight Distillery, Floyd County
- John Jones, founder of the John Jones Automotive Group, Washington County
- Steve Meyer, retired, Scottsburg High School, Scott County
- Ken Rush, retired, vice president Sellersburg Stone Co., business development Irving Materials (IMI), Clark County
“It’s really remarkable to see what all can be accomplished when regions come together to maximize their efforts and succeed as a group,” said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. “Southern Indiana’s regional plan touches on multiple important pieces of what builds a strong community, and their efforts will no doubt help businesses and Hoosiers thrive in their communities for generations to come.”
With the approval of the proposal, the board will continue to meet monthly to address any opportunities which could move the plan forward.
Quotes from regional county commissioners:
David Bramer, Jefferson County Commissioner said, “We are encouraged and excited by the efforts of the Our Southern Indiana RDA in planning for development in the five-county region. These planning efforts, as well as those efforts in individual counties, will have a synergistic impact on the region and compliment those projects already taking place. The opportunities for regional development have the possibility of having a much greater impact for each county within the five-county region. We appreciate all the effort that has gone into the plan and feel we were able to take the best ideas from all five counties and move along a comprehensive path forward.”
Jack Coffman, president of the Clark County Commission said, “We are excited about the possibility of redevelopment for JeffBoat and the continued development at the River Ridge Commerce Center. We are very pleased with the final product and think the plan will be embraced by all our stakeholders.”
Phil Marshall, president of the Washington County Commission said, “The best thing about the plan is it allows Washington County to be its best for livability, both in terms of road safety and insuring water supply, along with the more attractive amenities. It addresses the practical needs of today while also looking at future opportunities.”
John Schellenberger, president of the Floyd County Commission said, “I’d like to commend the RDA on recognizing the different needs across the region while also focusing on the common needs for all, such as affordable, reliable broadband connections. High quality, affordable broadband is critical to our region’s economic, educational and workforce development and our quality of life.”
Robert Tobias, president of the Scott County Commission said, “The creation of this plan is the first step in making our region a desirable place to live and work. The 21st century amenities along with the educational programming and training opportunities could ensure our workforce meets our ever-expanding needs, now and in the future.”
Quotes from regional RDA Members:
“We are very pleased to receive approval from the state’s premier economic development authority for Our Southern Indiana’s regional development plan,” RDA Chairman Kevin Kellems said. “Because of cooperative efforts now, our regional community is positioned for a future of stronger growth going forward.”
Vice Chair of the Board Dana Huber agreed, saying, “Better jobs and local prosperity are directly linked to REGIONAL economic growth. A rising regional tide will help raise all boats, connecting our communities together for the good of future generations.”
“We are committed to building this collaboration through transparency. By addressing our planning efforts as a region, we are exhibiting and supporting the principles of trust and respect amongst all of our partners,” said Board Secretary/Treasurer Ken Rush. “I am excited about the new opportunities ahead of us.”
Board member John Jones added, “This indicates the beginning of a new way for us to approach our common problems. It will better position all of our areas – both as individual communities and as a region – for growth and economic opportunity.”
Board member Steve Meyer commented, “This is a great affirmation for regional cooperation. When the public and private sectors work together, we all win.”
For a more information on the plan, visit www.oursoinrda.org.