Since 2015, the City of Indianapolis and its partners have leveraged the IndyEast Promise Zone designation to secure funding and technical assistance from 12 federal agencies, namely the Economic Development Administration (EDA), which supports innovation and entrepreneurship in communities nationwide under the U.S. Department of Commerce. Engagement between Promise Zone stakeholders and the EDA began through a coordinated effort between the Promise Zone’s local implementation partners, including representatives from Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City of Indianapolis, and the Work IndyEast Committee, and has been a catalyst for several economic development efforts in the Promise Zone. The most recent of these efforts has been the redevelopment of a 150-acre parcel in the Twin Aire neighborhood, which happens to be the largest brownfield in the Promise Zone.
Engagement with the Economic Development Administration
On September 16, 2016, the City of Indianapolis was awarded $355,000 from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to expand and strengthen its regional economic prosperity initiatives over the course of three years. The grant was awarded primarily due to the ambition, incisiveness, and record of past accomplishment demonstrated by the City in its Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) the previous year, although priority points accorded because of the IndyEast Promise Zone designation also played a decisive role. So far, the EDA grant has allowed the City of Indianapolis to hire its Principal Program Manager of Economic Recovery to oversee the redevelopment of underused urban space in ways that create opportunities for people to be housed, employed, educated, and otherwise served in ways that improve the quality of life in Indianapolis.
One month after the City of Indianapolis received its grant from the EDA, Citizens Energy Group was awarded $375,000, also from the EDA, and used it to implement the Assessment, Reuse, and Implementation (ARI) plan for its former coke and gas manufacturing site. Unveiled as the Pleasant Run Crossing ARI Strategy, the plan was developed through a community engagement process in partnership with the Twin Aire Neighborhood Coalition (TANC), the City of Indianapolis, Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND), Southeast Community Services, Local Initiatives Support Coalition (LISC), and the John Boner Neighborhood Centers (JBNC), the last of which serves as the Promise Zone’s lead agency. Many residents of the Twin Aire neighborhood were particularly supportive of the plan, as they continue to be, because of its proposals to increase neighborhood connectivity, create jobs, and otherwise serve their community.
The partnerships that led the EDA to support projects in the Promise Zone, in combination with strong resident engagement, have been instrumental in allowing Near Eastside community partners to redevelop the abandoned industrial sites and corridors in ways that encourage entrepreneurship, create jobs, and encourage local spending. Citizens Energy will match the EDA’s funding in order for its 150 acre site to join Sherman Park as one of several vacant industrial sites on track to be redeveloped in the near future. As a civically-engaged collective of Twin Aire-based residents, workforce members, and worshipers that has convened regularly since their neighborhood became part of Indianapolis’ Great Places 2020 initiative, the TANC has succeeded in ensuring that AECOM, one of the project’s contractors, will hire based on a concentric model, giving priority to job applicants in the neighborhoods based on the proximity of their homes to the construction site. Furthermore, the TANC has ensured that water quality restoration, tree planting, and other enhancements to environmental quality will accompany construction of buildings and infrastructure on and in the immediate vicinity of Pleasant Run Crossing. Through finances provided jointly by the EDA and Citizens Energy Group and strong engagement between city officials, developers, and Twin Aire neighbors, Pleasant Run Crossing is well-positioned to increase employment and average household incomes in the IndyEast Promise Zone while contributing to neighborhood vitality in Twin Aire and a more sustainable approach to public safety city-wide.
Anyone wishing to engage with the Twin Aire Neighborhood Coalition may do so through the Twin Aire Great Places website at www.greatplaces2020.org/twin-aire-1.