Aug 18, 2022

READI grant elevates plan for new YMCA community center in downtown Princeton

Applying for a READI grant was a no-brainer for the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. It had already created a regional development plan for southwest Indiana, and the plan’s quality of place goals aligned almost perfectly with the goals of READI—Indiana’s acclaimed Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative.

READI is a bold, transformational initiative overseen by the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to strategically deploy $500 million around the Hoosier state in support of talent attraction, economic growth and efforts focused on enhanced quality of place.

The Evansville region was ready for READI.


“When READI came along, we were already prepared,” said Audrie Burkett, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Operations for the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership.”


That preparation is paying off in the form of a $5 million READI grant that will help pay for a state-of-the-art, 56,000-square-foot Toyota YMCA to be built in downtown Princeton.

“This will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for downtown Princeton and all of Gibson County to have a first-class amenity right in their backyard,” said Burkett.

Thanks to the READI grant, the full-service YMCA will have a significant aquatics component. It will house the area’s first indoor pool, which will be open to the public and home to swim programs for local public schools and Oakland City University.

The pool is just part of the $21 million YMCA, which is scheduled to open in April 2024 in a former elementary school. It will also house a group exercise studio, health and wellness rooms, a teaching kitchen and a youth wing that will house a STEM lab and other activities for children and teens.

The READI grant elevates the entire project, which isn’t a one-off addition to the area’s quality of place initiative. Rather, it’s an important piece of a larger puzzle, tying together goals of population growth and talent attraction and retention for local employers, the largest of which is Toyota.

“Toyota is a strong regional employer and a supportive partner in the effort,” said Burkett. “When it comes to attracting and retaining talent we know quality of place matters, and this project allows their team members to access and enjoy a new facility in the community.”

Much like new YMCAs that have opened in Kokomo and New Albany, the Toyota YMCA is expected to spin off new entrepreneurial opportunities for local residents and bring new energy to the surrounding community. It will also be key to anchoring new workforce housing units.

In fact, Princeton’s new YMCA will be developed simultaneously with a nearby workforce housing project, another piece of the region’s talent attraction puzzle.

This article was featured in the August 2022 edition of the IEDC’s newsletter. Subscribe today.