Nov 02, 2022

READI Funding Bolsters Workforce Housing Project in Gibson County

It’s not just urban areas like Indianapolis that are on the map for economic development; rural Indiana is growing at an impressive pace, too. However, with that upward trajectory comes growing pains. Currently, Princeton, IN has a shortage of affordable workforce housing that can make it challenging for talent to relocate to the area.


“It’s not a one-off, standalone initiative,” said Audrie Burkett, senior vice president of strategy and operations with the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership. “We're being very intentional about connecting the dots and making sure we're close to major employers, but we're also having the right mix of amenities for those we want to attract into the area.”



Enter “The District,” a $21-million, 144-unit apartment complex that broke ground in late-October. The housing development—developed by Evansville-based Wayne Kinney—is located on S. Second Avenue in Princeton, just minutes from the area’s Toyota plant.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana (TMMI) in Princeton has a vested interest in changing the landscape. The plant uses high-tech manufacturing systems to assemble some of the most technologically advanced vehicles on the road today. TMMI has assembled more than 6 million vehicles. Since the plant’s groundbreaking in 1996, Toyota has invested $6.6 billion to make high-quality vehicles through smarter, flexible manufacturing and innovation.

People are at the heart of this progress, of course. As Toyota prepares to expand its Indiana plant, one big challenge in expanding will be finding talent. In the spring of 2022, the automaker said it would invest more than $800 million to add two electric vehicles to its production line at the Princeton facility and create 1,400 jobs by the end of 2023. According to Toyota, starting pay for Industrial Automation Maintenance Team Members ranges from $28 to $39.50 per hour, with raises every six months.

But this expansion doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Catering to the needs of TMMI’s growing workforce is among the priorities of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership and other partners, made possible by funding from the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI). To that end, LiveREADI projects are thoughtfully developed housing projects that are attractive to target populations and strategically fit employer needs, a win-win.

The District is a READI-funded project. However, it’s more than just another residential project.

For instance, future residents of The District can expect a variety of units, several in-unit covered balconies, a multi-use clubhouse featuring an exercise room, a private mail delivery room, a pool, walking paths, parking garage rental space and storage rental space.

Burkett said the project, slated to be completed in June 2024, is the sum of collective efforts among many partners who have the best interest of the region in mind.

“We're not successful if we just shift people around—we need to think in terms of bringing new people and showing them what the Evansville region and southwest Indiana and Gibson County have to offer,” she said.

Retaining talent is also top of mind.

“Advanced manufacturing is our largest sector, and the health and life sciences industry is fastest growing,” said Burkett. “We've been very intentional about making sure that when we think about opportunities that are coming—whether it's incentivizing or recruiting—we’re looking at those that allow a good job and a good wage.”

Further enhancing quality of life, The District will be complemented by a new YMCA of Southwestern Indiana facility located just a few minutes away in downtown Princeton. It’s a unique project because it’s bringing new life to a previously vacant building. The site of the new facility is the former Lowell Elementary school donated to the YMCA by North Gibson Corporation.

Burkett said this project will only add to the vibrancy of the region and the timing couldn’t be better.

“They serve all the way from youth to seniors and so this is really a gathering place for the entire community and a first-class facility for all,” she said. “It's 56,000-square-feet and will be a full facility, meaning that it’ll have a pool. It will have a competition-size pool, gymnasium and the amenities you associated with working out. In addition, it will have a teaching kitchen for nutrition education. There'll be community rooms within their partner space and a youth wing.”

One specific area of YMCA’s programming is also a win for Toyota.

“They'll have a STEM lab, so that means they’ll be able to connect children early on with potential career opportunities they’ll be exposed to through the lab.”

 Learn more about the READI program