Meetings remain for input into how ARPA dollars spent

Sidewalks, streetlights and playgrounds.

Residents have requested those amenities during the first three of seven public input meetings for Wayne County’s Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program participation. HELP assists with planning for projects that spend American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

Each participating Wayne County community has a public input meeting scheduled. Pershing began the meetings Feb. 13, followed by Milton and Spring Grove on Feb. 14. Commissioner Jeff Plasterer said during the Feb. 15 commissioners meeting that those sessions went well with between 20 and 30 participants at each.

“Each town is very different,” he said. “They have their own issues that they want to deal with, and they have limited resources to deal with those.”

The upcoming meetings are:

  • Dublin, 7 p.m. Feb. 28 in the fire station, 498 N. Johnson St.;
  • Economy, 7 p.m. March 8 in the town hall on West Main Street; and 
  • Cambridge City, 6 p.m. March 13 in the town hall, 127 N. Foote St.

“We will be soliciting input on what are the priorities for ARPA funding, what do people see as the things that we need in Wayne County that they’re willing to work on and talk about,” Plasterer said as he encouraged participation.

The input will help frame decisions about spending ARPA money and drive future planning.

The county committed up to $10 million from its ARPA share toward projects identified through the HELP process. Richmond and each participating town committed 30% of their ARPA allocations, putting about $12.5 million into the program.

Each community controls how it spends its ARPA share.

Make My Move

When providing her monthly update to commissioners, Valerie Shaffer, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County, said she had welcomed two movers from the Make My Move program to Wayne County and was later that day meeting with a third.

Make My Move offers incentives, including $5,000 in two installments, for people who work remotely to relocate to Wayne County. She said the first two she’d met moved from California and Colorado.

“Both had great experiences with the Make My Move program and with finding suitable housing here and were settling in very well,” Shaffer said.

The third mover came from Michigan, and a fourth is in the process of moving. All four chose to live in Richmond, although the program enables movers to locate anywhere in Wayne County.

The county’s goal is to attract 20 movers.

Midwest Industrial Park

Shaffer said the expansion of sewer capacity in the Midwest Industrial Park is picking up steam, and she expects the project to be completed by the end of 2025.

The growing Midwest Industrial Park needs to increase its sewer capacity from 290,000 gallons per day to 2,090,000 gallons per day. The first phase is priced at $13,980,000 for a 140,000-gallon-per-day increase, and the total price tag is expected to be $38,470,000.

The EDC has recently announced two new Midwest Industrial Park projects: Liberation Labs in Phase I and Viking Group in Phase III, which is 326 acres added last year.

“As we start to respond to other projects with interest in the Midwest Industrial Park, it’s important that we know how we can fulfill their wastewater capacity needs and support their projects,” Shaffer said. “For the projects that we have just announced as well as the proposed expansions in the park, we do have sufficient capacity to support all of that growth at this time. What we’re focused on now is the future capacity for any potential future users.”

Economic development

A first draft of an agreement with developers for the former Elder-Beerman site in Richmond is under review, Shaffer told commissioners.

The city of Richmond and the developers are defining their roles and financial contributions to the project that would develop downtown apartments. It has been allocated $2.95 million by the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership from its $15 million award in the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative program. 

Shaffer said that even with that investment, there will be a cash gap, and more information will be presented to commissioners about how the county could support the project.

Shaffer also told commissioners she will be one of nine Indiana economic development professionals visiting England and Wales with IEDC.

The trip is fully paid for by the United Kingdom and is part of a state effort to strengthen economic ties between Indiana and the United Kingdom. 

“It will be a great experience for us to promote what we have to offer here in Wayne County to both the government over there as well as private-sector businesses and also to learn more about investment opportunities overseas.”

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Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.