Reprinted with permission from the Pike County Press-Dispatch, July 3, 2019

by Andy Heuring, Pike County Press-Dispatch

Pike County got official notification last week the Technology Center will receive more than $2 million in the form of an 80-20 grant from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. It is a project Pike County has been working on since before 2012.

The 8,600-square foot building, to be located at the southwest corner of the I-69 interchange, just south of Petersburg, will house co-working space, maker space, private offices, as well as a training center for workforce development.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Joe Dedman, of the Pike County Economic Development Corp. The technology center was one of several projects in Petersburg’s first Stellar ap-plication in 2011. “It was originally going to be in Petersburg,” said Dedman. However, after the Petersburg Stellar application failed, the EDC decided to relocate it at the I-69 interchange.

Ashley Willis, executive director of the Pike County’s EDC, said it was “wonderful news. . . Very exciting times,” as she noti-fied EDC board members of the $2.060 million grant. “I am pleased to inform you that the Department of Commerce’s Economic De-velopment Administration (EDA) has approved your application for a $2,060,000 EDA investment to construct the Entrepreneurship & Technology Center of Pike County,” stated a letter from Susan M. Brehm, Regional Counsel for the EDA. Brehm continued, “EDA’s mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.

EDA implements this mission by making strategic investments in the nation’s most economical-ly distressed communities that encourage private sector collaboration and creation of higher-skill, higher-wage jobs. EDA investments are results driven, embracing the principles of technological innovation, entrepreneurship and regional development. “I share your expectations regarding the impact of this investment and look forward to working with you to meet the economic development needs of your community,” stated Brehm in the letter last week.

The project has not been an easy one for Pike County. They were originally turned down twice by the Stellar program of Indiana. Their first request for an EDA grant was rejected. Then on the second request to EDA, they were awarded $786,000 in a 60-40 grant. Willis said they had hoped to have it under construction this summer. However, when they bid the project in 2018, the bids came back $900,000 over budget. So they went back to the drawing board again.

They originally looked at ways to reduce the costs of the building. But in talking with the EDA, Willis said they told Pike County, “They support our project and they would guide us through the project and terminating the 60-40 grant so it could be resubmitted for the 80-20 grant.” Willis said Pike County didn’t know they had 80-20 grants available.

“They don’t advertise for this. So this is very rare. This is something they don’t do for all projects,” said Willis. Reducing Pike County’s match from 40 percent to 20 percent made the project possible. Willis said Pike County’s match is $755,000, that in-cludes a $200,000 commitment from Elmer Buchta. They will be advertising for bids in the next couple of weeks and hope to open bids three to four weeks after that. Willis said they would love to have it under construction this year, but that will be determined by the successful bidder’s schedule.