Michigan City Councilwoman Angie Nelson-Deuitch
Michigan City Councilwoman Angie Nelson-Deuitch
MICHIGAN CITY – After swift action on the part of one city councilwoman, Michigan City now has a shot at receiving a piece of $500 million in grant funding from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

Councilwoman Angie Nelson-Deuitch said in a phone interview Tuesday that she recently learned the Northwest Indiana Forum would be applying for a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant; and that it had reached out to municipalities across the region to identify projects to include in its regional development plan.

Although the Forum had contacted the Michigan City Mayor’s Office about the initiative, Nelson-Deuitch said, she could find no evidence that anyone locally was working to submit local projects for consideration.

So, over the course of just two weeks, Nelson-Deuitch pulled together stakeholders from throughout the community to ask which local initiatives they hoped to see in the Forum’s proposal.

Those stakeholders included members of the Common Council, Ivy Tech, Economic Development Corp. of Michigan City, Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, United Way of La Porte County, Unity Foundation of La Porte County, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, One Region, local business leaders and others.

“I tried to be as inclusive as possible without making it too big a group – because when it’s too big, nothing gets done,” she said. “Knowing that this [grant] was competitive and regional, I tried to make sure [Michigan City’s project suggestions] fit into the Forum’s Ignite the Region plan as well.”

The nine projects Nelson-Deuitch submitted to the Forum on Friday – the deadline – included:

• Singing Sands Trail completion
• Feasibility study for relocation of the Indiana State Prison
• Creation of workforce housing through a partnership with the Unity Foundation, Housing Opportunities and First Source Bank
• Providing an entrepreneur and incubator coworking space
• Establishing a renewable energy program and additional manufacturing labs at Ivy Tech and the A.K. Smith Career Center; as well as upgrading the machine technology labs at both
• Construction of an Inclusive and Accessible Playground at Washington Park
• Westside Affordable Housing Construction (Infill) Completion
• U.S. 12 and Liberty Trail Sanitary Sewer Interceptor
• Initiatives at the Boys & Girls Club of La Porte County’s Michigan City location

“I wanted to let the region know and the people downstate know that Michigan City is on the rise,” Nelson-Deuitch said of her decision to spearhead the effort with just days remaining until the deadline.

“With all of the things that are happening with the Transit Development District, with the [Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s] Double Track NWI – I just feel like we need to put the region on notice that we’re stepping up our game and that we are a part of the conversation on development, on housing, on opportunities for our citizens.

"We are participating and we want to increase the quality of life here in Michigan City.”

The councilwoman presented a summary of the grant and of Michigan City’s proposals during a workshop on Thursday, noting that quality of life, place and talent, as well as entrepreneurship and innovation were the major factors in determining which projects to submit to the Northwest Indiana Forum, which has until Aug. 31 to submit its regional development plan to the IEDC for READI grant consideration.

The IEDC will review applications throughout the fall and announce which regions’ projects will be awarded before the end of 2021.

"Hopefully, Michigan City will have at least one project – if not more – on that list,” Nelson-Deuitch said during the workshop.

READI grants will be capped at $50 million per region, and are designed to attract a 4:1 grant match, wherein the local match is 1:1, and 3:1 from private and philanthropic sources.

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