Franklin County Economic Development Commission director John Palmer presented updates on funding opportunities to Franklin County Commissioners at their June 1 meeting.

Palmer explained how Franklin County could benefit from the Indiana READI program, which looks to distribute $500 million, divided into 10 regions across the state. The program hopes to drive economic growth through population growth. Palmer emphasized the county will need to partner with its neighbors to seek inclusion in the program and must identify in a region by July 1.

Franklin County is currently a member of the Southeast Indiana Growth Alliance (SEGA), along with Dearborn, Ripley, Union and Switzerland counties; Palmer suggested applying for the grant as SEGA.

In addition to the $500 million provided by state taxpayers, the grant program hopes to draw in $2 billion in local public, private and philanthropic matching funds. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), which overseen the program, will require a one to one match from local public funding and recommends a three to one match from private and philanthropic funding.

Palmer noted Cincinnati continues to expand and Hamilton County, Ohio is quickly running out of space. Infrastructure development in the SEGA counties will ensure southeastern Indiana is ready to take on that population. Commissioners agreed to join SEGA to seek Indiana READI funding.

Palmer also updated commissioners on expanded internet access coming to Metamora. Fiber optic lines had been laid from Brookville to Metamora and on to Laurel, but were never utilized by an internet service provider. Palmer has been working to find a company interested in taking on the lines and has found a provider in Heavenwire, who has crews in the area developing infrastructure. New customers in Metamora are expected to be able to start signing up next month with service to Laurel expected in the future.

Also discussed:
-Resident Mildred Simmermeyer suggested the county direct some of the federal funds coming through the American Recovery Plan to handicap accessibility projects at municipal properties.