We’re pleased to announce that a partnership between Steuben County, the Town of Ashley, and Region 3-A recently received the 2020 Local Government Cooperation Award by the Association of Indiana Counties (AIC). Our group was recognized for the infrastructure expansion project for economic development, working with the town of Ashley.
Region 3-A partnered with Steuben County officials, officials from the town of Ashley. Together we worked to obtain federal and state grants for the development of Brightmark. Ashley was awarded a grant by the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to help expand water and sewer access for the new site in development by Brightmark.
Ashley was also awarded $1 million in Community Crossings money for a road, rail crossings and lighting for the Brightmark plant.
The new plant will recycle plastic waste back into fuel and industrial waxes. The innovative company will provide about 130 new jobs for the area. Brightmark is now in the testing phase. It has already produced fuel and is the first commercial scale operation of this type in the nation.
AIC Award Criteria
Counties that win the award must demonstrate that a project meets these criteria:
Demonstrates cooperation between one or more municipalities and county(s)
Positive impact on the community and the participating governmental units; and potential for the activity to serve as a model for other local governments
The Association of Indiana Counties’ Annual Conference was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The call for the second round of Community Crossings was paused in July in order to monitor the financial outlook due to COVID. However, on Wednesday, Indiana Governor Holcomb and INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness announced that the next call for projects in the Community Crossings grant program will open Friday, September 25, 2020.
Information from INDOT
Community Crossings is part of Gov. Holcomb’s Next Level Roads program, a 20-year, fully funded plan to enhance Indiana’s highways and local roads by awarding communities grants for shovel-ready local road construction projects.
Projects eligible for funding through Community Crossings:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in connection with road projects
Material costs for chip sealing and crack filling operations
Projects submitted to the Indiana Department of Transportation for funding will be evaluated based on need, traffic volume, local support, the impact on connectivity and mobility within the community, and regional economic significance.
Community Crossings is open to all local government units in the State of Indiana.
Cities and towns with a population of fewer than 10,000 will receive funds using a 75/25 match.
Cities and towns with a population of greater than 10,000 will receive funds using a 50/50 match.
Counties with a population of fewer than 50,000 will receive funds using a 75/25 match.
Counties with a population of greater than 50,000 will receive funds using a 50/50 match.
Over the last four years, the state has awarded more than $730 million in matching funds to support local road and bridge projects around Indiana.
All application materials must be submitted by Friday, October 23, 2020, at 5 p.m. ET. Communities receiving funding for projects will be notified by INDOT later this fall.
If you need technical assistance in applying for Community Crossings funding, please contact us at (260)347-4714.
For more information on the assistance we provide with Community Crossings application preparation, visit our service page.
The State of Indiana received funds from the federal government as part of the CARES Act to address COVID-19-related matters. The state has allocated $300 Million to local municipalities. We have received a few questions on how the funds can be used.
Our friends at the Association of Indiana Counties (AIC) have a page on their website that provides resources to local municipalities on how the CARES Act funds can be used. Click here to go to AIC’s COVID-19 page.
We also want you to know that Region 3-A is here to help you through this very trying time. If we can help answer questions on CARES Act funding please contact us.
About the AIC
The Association of Indiana Counties (AIC) was established in 1957 for the betterment of county government. AIC’s purposes and goals are to seek the betterment of county government through: representation of counties at the Indiana General Assembly; research and dissemination of information; communications through publications and seminars; professional training and educational programs; liaison between counties, state and federal agencies; and technical and managerial assistance.
While there are a number of agencies and groups offering assistance to county government, AIC is the only entity that represents the legislative needs of Indiana counties.
Communities often want to upgrade their drinking water capacity but are limited by available finances. There are loan and grant options available, which allow for projects to be completed in a timely manner.
The funding agencies are aware of the challenges that small towns face. When grants are involved the agency focuses on the financial impact a project will have for a community. When a town chooses a loan option, agencies provide repayment terms that allow for a community to pay back the loan so that residents aren’t drastically impacted with their monthly utility bills.
The items below represent grant and loan options where Region 3-A can provide technical assistance to a community in getting a drinking water project funded.
Wastewater/Drinking Water Program
The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs offers funding for drinking water projects under their wastewater/drinking water program. The funds for this program come from the federal level under Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The funds come to the state as a community development block grant. The state through OCRA disburses the funds to projects that meet eligibility requirements. Communities must submit a grant application to OCRA for consideration. The grant applications are competitive. They typically have two rounds of funding per year. Below is OCRA’s matrix for determining the maximum grant amount available for a project. The local match requirement is at least 20% of the project cost.
OCRA can fund projects under the urgent need designation.
There are two criteria that need to be met for OCRA to consider a project under this designation.
The project must address an emergency situation
The community must demonstrate that no other means of paying for the project exist and that OCRA funds are the only option.
Based on information presented at OCRA continuing education events they have stated this designation has only been used once in the last 40 years.
State Revolving Fund
The State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan Programs provide low-interest loans to Indiana communities for projects that improve wastewater and drinking water infrastructure. The Program’s mission is to provide eligible entities with the lowest interest rates possible on the financing of such projects while protecting public health and the environment.
SRF also funds non-point source projects that are tied to a wastewater loan. Currently, SRF’s rates are in the low two-percent range.
Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program
Loan term as long as 40 years
Low interest rates
Typically, a loan program, but some of the funds can be used as grant dollars to keep user costs reasonable
Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants
Up to $500,000 available to construct water source, intake or treatment facility
Up to $150,000 available to construct waterline extensions, or repair breaks or leaks
No funds available currently
National Rural Water Association Rural Water Loan Fund
Eligible projects include planning costs, replacing equipment, system upgrades, and disaster recovery.
Loan amount up $100,000 or 75% of the total project cost
Interest rate of 3% and a 10-year term
Emergency loans are 90-day no interest, and immediate turn around on applications
EPA – Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act
Eligible projects include drinking water treatment and distribution, alternative water supply, water recycling projects, and enhanced energy efficiency at drinking water facilities.
A single fixed interest rate is established at closing
Interest rate is not impacted by the borrower’s credit or loan structure
Customized repayment schedules
Long repayment period
Deferred payment – Up to five years
Loans can be combined with various funding sources
As a regional unit of government serving Northeast Indiana, our sole imperative has always been to support the advancement of Northeast Indiana. We have assisted with many community, economic development, transportation and housing projects throughout the region. Now in the midst of the COVID-19 public health crisis, we are working on ways to help our community heal, help area businesses, and assist with economic growth to keep our region moving forward.
Point of Contact
Region 3A has also served as a regional liaison to many state and federal agencies, providing an efficient single point of contact for 6 counties and 32 municipalities. As an agency governed by local county and municipal officials, Region 3A is here to support development and rehabilitation needs.
Our promise to the counties that we serve is that we will always be informed with accurate and up-to-date information on emerging federal, state, local and private sector business support initiatives and programs, and available as a source for information. Now more than ever, we encourage businesses and organizations to reach out to explore options for grants and assistance under our services offerings.
Relief and Moving Forward
Region 3A is developing a plan with local and regional organizations to provide information and help our community receive short-term relief and assistance. We are here to help residents navigate the quick changes of available resources, provide necessary details, and meet deadlines for upcoming relief funding.
If you would like more information on relief funding for businesses as it becomes available, please reach out to us at email@example.com.
The Economic Development Administration has begun taking applications for their funding opportunity (NOFO) CARES Act. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), signed into law by President Trump on March 27 to provide the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) with $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.”
CARES Act Funding
This program will fund eligible economic development projects 80% and up to 100% under certain conditions. Eligible applicants include local governmental entities, institutions of higher education, not for-profit entities, and federally recognized Tribes.
The EDA’s requirements are that projects must have a commercial/industrial benefit, and that multiple current or incoming businesses benefit from the project.
Here are the types of projects that the EDA has funded in recent years:
Infrastructure – Water and sewer
Industrial parks – New or expansion of existing
Workforce training facilities
Multi-tenant manufacturing facilities
Science and research parks
Telecommunications infrastructure and development facilities
Revolving loan funds
Travel and tourism marketing campaigns
The above projects are examples of projects that will be funded, but it is not limited to these types of projects. Projects that specifically address COVID-19 issues, or a project that would allow for resiliency from this pandemic, would have a great opportunity to receive funding.
Applications for the CARES Act
The EDA will award grants to successful applications on a rolling basis. EDA began accepting applications on May 7, 2020 and will deploy its CARES Act funding as quickly, effectively, and efficiently as possible, and in a manner that meets the needs of these communities.
Funding for eligible projects available on a “first come, first served” basis, so communities and organizations seeking funding should act fast.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get your application started. For information and frequently asked questions regarding the CARES Act, visit the FAQs page of the EDA website.
The Region 3-A team worked with the town of Ashley Indiana for more than a year to help them achieve EDA grant funding for infrastructure at the site of the new Brightmark Energy plant. We’re pleased to announce that earlier this week, Ashley Indiana was notified that they will receive a $1.2 million grant from the Economic Development Administration.
The EDA grant will help complete infrastructure projects to service the Brightmark Energy project that is under construction. Brightmark is going to use a patented process to convert waste plastics into fuel and industrial wax at their new 114,000 sq. ft. facility.
As a result, the 136 jobs are expected to be created within the new facility, along with opportunities for construction and infrastructure work as well throughout the project.
About The Project
The Town of Ashley approached Region 3-A for assistance in EDA funding after Brightmark became the controlling owner of RES Polyflow. Our role was to help the community leverage their resources and ensure that all of the information and criteria is provided so that they could get the most funding available.
Steuben County provided a loan guarantee to Ashley of up to $1.5 million for the project, much of which will go toward matching funds. The town has set aside $1 million in tax increment financing money. Some of that financing money will pay for right of way acquisition and engineering fees.
About EDA Grant Funding
The EDA grant provides a 50/50 match of grant funding for infrastructure projects. However, it can more or less depend on economic factors. Private investment and community investment go a long way in making potential infrastructure projects come to fruition. If you’re interested in learning more about EDA Grant funding and how to best use the resources available to your town, contact us at email@example.com.
Traffic count activities for 2020 started on March 9. The Region collects traffic count data on a three-year rotation basis with collection taking place in two counties each year.
Traffic Count Counties 2020
This year’s traffic counts will take place in Wabash and Huntington Counties. We started this year with railroad crossing counts. There are 54 rail crossings in Wabash County, and 31 in Huntington County to be collected. This data is given to INDOT which then distributes it to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The data is used by our planning partners to improve safety at railroad crossings.
Region 3-A also does local traffic counts on non-state and federal highways. Staff will collect data at 40 locations in both Wabash and Huntington Counties. The data is submitted to the State’s statistical group and is then attached to a webmap. This information is combined with traffic counts submitted by the INDOT District and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO’s) to complete all the counts that INDOT requires for a given year. This website is available to the public.
If you have questions about this information or the data presented, please contact Dave Gee at 260-347-4714, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The County Engineers or Highway Superintendents are given 15 discretionary traffic counts to help with their planning efforts. This traffic count data allows for tracking of trends, and possible development in areas of the respective county.
This year we will also complete two accident studies. Accident studies involve a review of high accident locations. A meeting is requested with the County Sheriff and County Engineers or Highway Superintendents to evaluate the areas in question. From there, one area is determined to be problematic; traffic counts are conducted, and a report is produced. These reports can then be advanced to a Safety Audit for possible remediation.
Region 3-A staff is also available for technical help with Community Crossing Applications, and Corridor and Traffic Impact Studies.