July 1, 2021—Four of Indiana’s most innovative and successful rural cities near the Interstate 74 corridor southeast of Indianapolis have joined forces with their county partners to grow their communities and workforce talent. Accelerate Rural Indiana, a not-for-profit organization being launched by the cities and counties, will apply for a portion of the $500 million Indiana Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) planning grant and funding.
Shelbyville, Greensburg, Rushville and Batesville, along with Shelby, Rush and Decatur counties, are formally cooperating through Accelerate Rural Indiana. Accelerate Rural Indiana is focused on delivering lasting growth and success to one of Indiana’s greatest assets, its rural frontier. The communities along I-74 already have compiled an impressive record, having landed more than $73 million in grants and philanthropic funding to leverage more than $1.6 billion in private investment in the past five years.
“As a publicly traded company headquartered in Batesville, we continue to support efforts that provide the city with recruiting or economic advantages,” said Hillenbrand President and CEO Joe Raver. “This funding will help improve the quality of life in the community, attract more employees, and continue to contribute to economic growth, while also allowing us to be more successful in attracting corporate talent from the tri-state area.”
Shelbyville, Greensburg, Rushville and Batesville boast remarkably similar strengths. The top 10 industry sectors in each city are identical; each city has made dramatic progress in revitalizing their downtowns; each has attracted jobs and private investment by leveraging private dollars with public funding. Moreover, each city has been a finalist in Indiana’s Stellar Communities Program, which supports communities in improving their quality of place.
A READI grant would enable the community partners of Accelerate Rural Indiana to combine their strengths and ambitions to further increase quality of life and workforce initiatives, thereby helping attract and retain a 21st century workforce. Successful experiences gleaned by the cities also hold potential for sharing with other rural communities. The region hosts corporate partners including, but not limited to, Knauf, INTAT, Honda, Hillenbrand and Hillrom.
The READI program was funded by the 2021 General Assembly and is administrated by the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
Comments from key organizers of Accelerate Rural
Tom DeBaun: mayor, Shelbyville
“Our similarities as communities as well as our geographical alignment along I-74 make our
region a natural location for future success. Our respective strengths complement each others’
goals and ambitions and, with this more formalized approach, we will become a hotbed for
growth and investment.
“We have already seen success as individual communities as measured by private investment
and the multiple partnerships formed with our businesses, educational partners and our foreign-
direct investment. The successful completion of this new partnership for which we are applying
will cement our place not only as a region but as a powerhouse in Indiana.”
Mike Pavey: mayor, Rushville
“We are excited to be a part of Accelerate Rural Indiana, as I believe that this team should make
sense to all who live, work and play in our area. We are all familiar with our partners because
we interact in a mutually beneficial manner on a daily basis.
“The READI program will accelerate the progress we have made over the past five years and
push Rushville and our neighbors to be more viable and competitive.”
Joshua Marsh: mayor, Greensburg
“The city of Greensburg has been home to large direct investments from global corporations for
decades, and we are excited about the opportunity to partner with our neighbors to show the
world that southeastern Indiana and Accelerate Rural Indiana is ready for them to call us home.
Our already momentous collaboration to improve the quality of life for current and future
residents is only being made stronger by partnering in pursuit of being a READI recipient.”
Mike Bettice: mayor, Batesville
“For rural communities to be relevant and to grow, we have to continually look at and add
quality-of-life items for present and future members. We have a responsibility to our citizens and
business partners to make our communities attractive and vibrant so we can grow. We have a
symbiotic relationship with our businesses to help them to be successful so we can be
successful. We have to do our part to help them attract the talent they need to be successful.
The READI program gives us the opportunity to push ahead some quality of life initiatives that
we believe will help us grow for the future and take us to the next level.”
“For rural communities to be relevant and grow, we have to continually add attractive, vibrant
quality-of-life items. We have to do our part to attract talent so our businesses can be
successful. The READI program gives us the opportunity to advance some quality-of-life
initiatives that will take us to the next level.”
Joe Raver: president and CEO, Hillenbrand
“As a publicly traded company headquartered in Batesville, we continue to support efforts that
provide the city with recruiting or economic advantages. This funding will help improve the
quality of life in the community, attract more employees, and continue to contribute to economic
growth, while allowing us to be more successful in attracting corporate talent from the tri-state
Chris Trainor: president, Batesville Casket
“Our employees are our greatest asset, and like other manufacturers in southeastern Indiana,
Batesville Casket faces challenges in recruiting qualified workers. The additional funding from
this grant would allow the city of Batesville to enhance housing, add amenities and improve
infrastructure—and be more competitive for future workers.”
Scott Wesseler: plant manager, Delta Faucet Company
“The leadership team at the Delta Faucet Company Plant in Greensburg is excited to see the
collaboration among the participating counties and cities toward the state’s READI program. We
believe the focus on attracting and retaining talent for our location is best addressed with a
regional approach, and we are supportive of the cooperation that is taking place.”
Jennifer Jones: executive director, Blue River Community Foundation
“As a foundation, we have close ties to the community foundations of Decatur and Rush
counties and often look to each others’ organizations for inspiration. It’s only natural as our
communities have several similarities. Additionally, we have local nonprofits that have recently
collaborated to serve residents in both Decatur and Rush counties; we are thrilled to have the
opportunity to further these alliances.
“Our community has worked hard to enhance the places where we live, work and recreate, and
we know that our partners have done the same. Creating this region will strengthen each of our
efforts and improve the quality of life not only in our individual counties but in this region of our
Alisa Winters: executive director, Rush County Community Foundation
“This regional collaboration is an opportunity to build upon each community’s ongoing quality of
life and economic investments to create a viable, growing region for businesses and residents
alike. Rush County Community Foundation is proud to be among the partners committed to this
transformative initiative. We expect that our work with ARI is just the beginning of an impactful
future of collaboration for our communities.”
Tami Wenning: executive director, Decatur County Community Foundation
“Community foundations were developed to help provide and leverage investments that will
positively impact the areas we love. The READI program provides an outstanding opportunity
for our organization and neighboring foundations to come together as partners and better our
region. We’re all eager to help make it happen. The collaboration we’ve seen so far is a
testament to how well we have worked together in the past. We are excited by the potential to
further unify the whole region—organizations, cities and counties alike—toward a set of regional
goals. We truly look forward to working with everyone.”