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EDC leads support to join RDA

Darrell Voelker, director of the Harrison County Economic Development Corp., voiced his support Monday night at the county council meeting of Harrison County joining the Regional Development Authority, which will be formed this year now that Floyd, Clark and Scott county councils have approved it.
The council is expected to vote to join the authority at its next regular meeting, which will be Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon (moved from Monday, Oct. 9, because of Columbus Day).
‘The Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Corp. and the Harrison County Community Foundation boards have made the decision to encourage Harrison County to join the our Southern Indiana RDA,’ Voelker wrote in a letter to the council members.
Voelker said House Bill 1286 regarding eminent domain addresses many of the concerns officials and residents expressed when an RDA was considered in 2015. It was voted down in Harrison County.
‘Harrison County deserves a seat at the regional table,’ Voelker said.
He said regional cooperation with issues such as the opioid crisis, workforce shortages, education issues and improvements to infrastructure, could be a part of the RDA’s focus.
‘This would be a great way to formally start that multi-county process to address our regional challenges,’ he said.
Voelker said Gov. Eric Holcomb and the legislature continue to allocate millions of tax dollars to programs within RDAs.
The Harrison County Council considered joining the RDA in 2015 when joining was a prerequisite for applying for the Regional Cities Initiative, Voelker said. Three regions were selected as Regional Cities at that time. Three counties in north-central Indiana, four in southwest Indiana and 11 in northeast Indiana. Those regions have been conducting many new projects with financial assistance from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
‘The funding mechanism of Regional Cities may no longer be available but the display of regional cooperation demonstrated by these communities shows that working together as an official Regional Development Authority has far greater advantages than receiving funds from the IEDC,’ Voelker said.
Voelker said he has always and will continue to work regionally with other partners.
He said joining the RDA will allow the county to apply for community block grants it otherwise would be unable to do.
Councilman Kyle Nix asked, if down the road, the county would no longer need an economic development corporation because it will fall under the RDA umbrella.
Voelker said it is possible.
‘I believe it could,’ he said. ‘And it should.’
In other business, the council plans to invite representatives from the fire departments, fire districts and township trustees to its budget hearing today (Wednesday) and Thursday, to ‘clear the air’ and ‘set the record straight’ before the council looks over the districts’ budgets.
‘We’ll invite them to come; it doesn’t mean they’ll show up,’ Council Chair Gary Davis said.
The Harrison Township Fire District representatives and township trustee will be on hand tonight (Wednesday), while the Posey-Taylor district will be tomorrow.