Steuben County Commissioners agreed to divert funds from work on shovel-ready site certifications to the Northern Indiana Lakes Country Enterprise Center on May 2.
Commissioners agreed to use $40,000 of the $50,000 set aside for the work to help with the Enterprise Center’s application for Regional Cities money that has been granted to northeast Indiana.
Dave Koenig, executive director of the Steuben County Economic Development Corp. that’s the driving force behind the Enterprise Center, said fundraising efforts to reach match amounts needed to apply for Regional Cities funding are coming along well.
However, more is needed in order to receive an anticipated $600,000 from Regional Cities, which is governed by the 11-county Northeast Indiana Regional Development Authority.
That $600,000 would have to be matched by government money and represents 20 percent of the project. The Enterprise Center is about a $3 million project.
“We’re kind of close to that 20 percent (government money),” Koenig said.
Last year Steuben County provided the project $100,000. Angola has provided about $60,000 in in-kind contributions, mainly in the form of landscaping and parking improvements.
Ron Smith, president of the commissioners, wants to get the blessing of the Steuben County Council because of the change in use, even though the money has been appropriated.
Meanwhile, Trine University is seeking $1.6 million in Regional Cities money for its $16 million arena project. Angola has offered $1.4 million in in-kind contributions.
Koenig sees the Trine project and the Enterprise Center as having the best crack at Regional Cities funding in Steuben County.
“The Enterprise Center is probably the next highest probability for getting money (behind Trine),” Koenig said.
The RDA is steward of a $42 million pool of money that is supposed to go toward funding quality of life projects in northeast Indiana. The 11-county northeast Indiana group was one of three regions in the state to be granted Regional Cities money created by legislation passed in 2015.
Projects seeking funding must be at least 60 percent funded by private money, up to 20 percent public money (which can be in-kind) and up to 20 percent from Regional Cities.
Trine plans to add a new 3,000-seat athletic and events center, which will be the new home of the Thunder men’s and women’s basketball teams, and a 1,000-seat ice arena.
As of last week, Trine had yet to make formal application to the RDA for funding.
Because of the public money involved and legislation that governs it, the applications are public records that can be examined by the public.