ECI Regional Planning District: End of Year Recap

The ECI Regional Planning District witnessed a transformative year in 2023, marked by economic development, strategic initiatives, and community engagement. From brownfield revitalization to community programs, 2023 was a journey of growth and success for our organization. 

One of the highlights of 2023 was the hiring of our Administrative Assistant, Michelle Badders. Michelle has been an excellent addition to our dynamic team. Not only has Michelle helped office operations run more smoothly, but has also been extremely helpful in the process of organizing community events, building relationships locally and internationally.  We could not be more grateful for her contributions and are excited to see her work continue in 2024. 

Last year we had an exciting beginning with ECIRPD staff like Executive Director Bill Walters attending the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in January alongside Delaware County Commissioner James King and other law enforcement officers. The purpose of attending this event was to obtain new equipment for law enforcement and to explore other economic development opportunities. Walters also attended the World of Concrete Show— an annual event to connect and educate buyers and sellers. After a week of attending these events, ECI Regional Planning District was able to secure a total of six economic development leads. 

The canvas of accomplishments extends with ECIRPD securing a $1,500 Walmart Grant in Albany, Indiana, designated for the creation of public art features. The grant was spent on art for the new splash pad in Albany. Public art can transform dull, blank spaces into visually interesting and attractive areas that people enjoy spending time in. This can enhance the character and identity of a community. For this reason, ECIRPD will be applying to other Walmarts in East Central Indiana to fund more of these initiatives. 

ECIRPD also made wonderful new connections with Italian companies like Trebi and Vi-Technik. Trebi a high-tech robotics manufacturer established its new North American headquarters in Delaware County. They set up their office space in the Innovation Connector complex in Muncie. Trebi has plans to collaborate with the robotics training facility at the Ivy Tech Community College campus located on Cowan Road. Vi-Technik has made a remarkable impact on various industries, specializing in the manufacturing of rubber, plastic, and glazing components. Their reach extends across automotive, defense, and rail sectors, offering a wide array of high-quality solutions. But, Vi-Technik’s influence doesn’t stop at manufacturing; they have distinguished themselves in the realm of professional services, including consultancy, production, quality control, and supply chain management.

Delaware County officials have also agreed to help with funding infrastructure for a new daycare center in the county. Kaleidoscope Kids Daycare, owned by longtime local daycare provider Janelle Kramer, will serve up to 180 children when finished. The project, consisting of a new state-of-the-art building 13,850 square feet in size, will be located at the southwest corner of Wheeling and Moore roads in Muncie. The Delaware County Redevelopment Commission will provide up to $250,000 in funding toward the $500,000 cost of running water and sewer lines to the facility. 

Since 2021 the East Central Indiana Regional Planning District (ECIRPD) has made their mark with Brownfields. ECI Regional Planning District applied for and received a $500,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assess brownfield sites in Delaware County. In the middle of 2023, the East Central Indiana Regional Planning District (ECIRPD) went to the highly anticipated 2023 U.S. Brownfield Training Conference. This dynamic event, attended by Executive Director Bill Walters, Senior Project Manager Brad Bookout, and Administrative Assistant Michelle Badders, offered a valuable opportunity for the ECIRPD team to engage, learn, and connect with fellow professionals in the field.

Towards the end of the year, the Innovation Connector hosted Entrepreneur Showcase Week as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. There was an award ceremony to kick off the week. One of the awards that was presented was the 2023 Business Supporter of the Year Award. This award goes to someone for their exceptional contributions and unwavering dedication to support and impact area entrepreneurs and businesses. Our Executive Director at ECIRPD, Bill Walters, and our Senior Project Manager at ECIRPD, and Director of Operations of Augusta Consulting, Brad Bookout, were the winners of this remarkable achievement. 

The ECI Regional Planning District was awarded $400,000, for Delaware, Grant, Blackford, and Jay Counties, with 47% of the funds being allocated towards disadvantaged communities, through the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program. The Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program was instated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in which $5 billion is being used from 2022-2026 to ensure regional, local, and Tribal road conditions are adjusted to protect drivers.

One of the major accomplishments in Jay County this year was securing $1M to aid a county-wide initiative to assist homeowners with limited to middle-range incomes in funding essential repairs for their residences through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ (OCRA) and Owner Occupied Rehabilitation program (OOR). 

For more information on any of these accomplishments and more, please visit