The Seymour Redevelopment Commission has pledged its support to expand classes at the Jackson County Learning Center in Seymour.
During a meeting Monday afternoon at city hall, Jim Plump, executive director of Jackson County Industrial Corp. and a member of the South Central Indiana READI team, said he wasn’t yet asking for a $480,000 check from the commission, just a commitment so he can continue to talk to local industries to get them on board, too.
If that happens, plus $240,000 is put in from the READI grant, the project can come to fruition. If the industry support isn’t there, the project won’t go forward, Plump said.
The total budget for the expansion of class offerings is $1.84 million.
Commission President Mark Dennis asked Plump if he thinks the money from industries is gettable.
“Yeah, I do,” Plump said. “I think we need to be realistic to the fact that I don’t know that we initially get to that number, but we have a budget that we need to obtain to purchase the equipment that would be needed, to get the instructor hired, and it is less than the $1.8 million.”
The initial budget submitted to the state with the READI grant application was $2 million, but that wound up being cut down to $1.84 million when the awards were announced.
“There’s some travel money in here, there’s some admin money in here, so that’s what we’re shooting for,” Plump said. “Realistically, we don’t have to hit that much to get the program off and running, but we’re going to need to be somewhere in the $1.2 million to $1.5 million (range) to get the thing going.”
While he hasn’t received any firm commitments from industries yet, Plump said he has had several discussions with the larger ones and will continue those talks. Then he will talk to the smaller companies.
“I’m not standing here this afternoon with any numbers, but I can tell you the meetings have gone very, very well in talking with the companies,” he said.
“We hope that before you all meet again at the end of August that we do get this project submitted to the state so that we can get this in position where Ernst and Young reviews, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. reviews it in the portal,” he said. “We just need to make sure we do have the commitments before it goes into the portal.”
In late June, Plump first made the request to the redevelopment commission because the $240,000 from the READI grant requires a match of public and private dollars. That would include $240,000 in 2022 and $240,000 in 2023 from the commission for a 2-to-1 match and the balance coming from private sources, mainly area industries that would utilize the education and training courses.
The commission’s portion would come out of the technology fund established when Seymour was granted a certified technology park in 2012 as a result of Cummins Inc.’s Hedgehog project. Plump said that certification was renewed in 2016 and 2020.
In 2020, the Indiana General Assembly said any certified technology park that hit its lifetime cap of $5 million could capture an additional $100,000 per year in incremental tax revenue as long as it maintains its certification through the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
Currently, Plump said the local technology fund balance is $619,445. The uses of these funds are very limited and have to be spent within the certified tech park.
In 2016, the boundaries of the certified tech park, which initially just included the Cummins campus in Seymour, were expanded to include the learning center.
“They are separated out of TIF and normal funding that you usually operate with,” Plump said to the commission. “These have very restricted uses that they must be used within the boundaries of the certified tech park and for the public good. … These are very limited sources of use for these funds.”
The initial classes would focus on maintenance, Plump said.
“Every company that you talk to, if you ask them the biggest need now, it’s maintenance,” he said. “We have a list of their projected classes, from beginner to intermediate maintenance for electrical maintenance, so for the start, it’s going to be focused on all aspects of maintenance.”
Now that the READI grant team has received a commitment from the redevelopment commission, the intention is to get the industry commitments and then submit that information to the state in August, Plump said.
If after a 30- to 60-day review period they are given the green light to move forward, classes and training would start in the first quarter of 2023, he said.
Recently, he said the state has said it would like all READI funds committed by June 2023.