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Ask The Mayor: Terre Haute's Bennett on COVID surge, casino operator

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Unknown Speaker
Hello and welcome to ask the mayor on WFIU. I'm Joe Hren and this week we have Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett joins us Hello again and welcome.

Unknown Speaker
Hello, Joe and always glad to be here. been doing this for quite a while and I really enjoy doing this interview. And as I've mentioned before, a lot of people listen and watch this. So it's been a very positive thing.

Unknown Speaker
Well, good always trying to get to the bottom of things and what's going on there in Terre Haute and I know, we have our first snow of the season tonight. They're saying maybe about a half inch, but it's probably still something to kind of keep an eye out, isn't it?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, as soon as you get that first fall, everybody keeps driving the normal way. And they always have a lot of fender benders. And, you know, I hopefully it'll just be that dusting. But it's that time of the year, we should expect that and hope people just kind of slow down, you know, to be safe. That's always the message, you know, every beginning of the winter season.

Unknown Speaker
And for those that would like to participate always you can send us a question news at Indiana public media.org. Or just a comment that we got from a Terre Haute resident this week and enjoy your comments as well. You can also tweet us at Ask the mayor. Well, as we do on every show with every mayor every week, we still have to tackle what's going on in the world of COVID. And second week of December, Thanksgiving holiday just ended, we have colder temperatures have kind of this recipe for COVID spreading and we had some cases in Monroe County. You know, despite being a vaccine, the numbers are passing numbers since January almost a year ago. So what are the trends? They're happening right now in Vigo County? And what do we need to do?

Unknown Speaker
Well, we're seeing the numbers go up kind of live as they are, and especially the metropolitan areas are seeing a large increase. I guess kind of the bottom line is what I'm hearing is yes, there are some people that are being hospitalized, but they're not quite as sick as they were before and not as many people on ventilators, you know, that kind of thing. So that's encouraging. It appears to be the delta here still not we're not seeing the newest bear. And so I don't know what that will bring whenever it makes its way here. But you know, I think the immunizations or the I shouldn't say the vaccinations have leveled off about, you know, we talked about that last month that they were starting to, and I think maybe the news of the new Alma Omicron, or however you say that new variant is causing a few people to go be kind of concerned about that, and don't get vaccinated. I've heard a few people around here even. And then when I was out in the community yesterday saying I'm just going to do it now. So you know, I just think we just got to keep keep your guard up, you know, it's kind of the same message, nothing has really changed. It's not over, you know, it's just not. It seems to be the people are not getting as sick. But don't take that as being anything other than just that. That's what we see, kind of right now. But if you have those underlying conditions, you know, you can get very sick and you can die. So don't let your guard down. Continue to think about what you need to do to protect you and your family or co workers and get vaccinated and talk to your doctor. I know I've said this 100 times, but talk to your doctor about that. And if it's if their shot is, you know, the doctor recommends you get the shot, then go get it. And hopefully at some point, we'll you know, navigate this enough that it's kind of a lower profile, flu like thing only, and we can live our lives as normal. Every time you begin to think that the numbers seem to go up, you know, I just, I find it frustrating. And probably the biggest thing I can say is just when you really are feeling like normal things are happening, and I'm seeing normal things happening. But then you see the numbers going up elsewhere. And then you knew they were going to happen here. And they are and so our health commissioner sent out some information to us yesterday and just said, the numbers are going up, start reminding people again, take precautions, don't let your guard down, get your vaccination. And I just want to keep repeating that same message.

Unknown Speaker
Thinking there with you in the county. I know there's a lot of communication with the health commissioner. Any metrics for imposing any more restrictions or mask mandates or anything like that. No,

Unknown Speaker
I'm not hearing that. Yeah. I just I think the counties kind of made a decision not to do anything, you know, several months ago along that line. So I would say well kind of hold our own here on that and keep the the recommendations that we have in place but Nothing mandate wise and, you know, hopefully get through this winter season and come out on the other side looking a lot better. But I don't anticipate any of that. He talked about where, where the federal mandate goes, I don't know, you know, especially the vaccination part, we're talking about some masking things again. So I guess we'll just have to wait and see what comes down from, you know, Washington, DC, or in Annapolis. And of course, you know, we'll abide by that. But I'm not hearing a lot other than just discussions. Any

Unknown Speaker
thought about county city employee type have that vaccine mandates or not?

Unknown Speaker
You know, and I kind of talked about this a couple of different times recently, people have asked me, I mean, I don't want to fire anybody for not getting a vaccination, I just I don't have the, we can't afford to let staff go, we're already minimum staffed. And most places now, we just encourage people to do that. If we have to test them weekly, we'll do that or worry about getting the tests, you know, to being clients with this federal mandate, if it happens, and we just continue to encourage, you know, department heads, talk their employees, our health staff that works with our hospital, our insurance plan, have to talk to our staff. And so we're giving them every opportunity to get vaccinated. And if they choose to do that, great if they don't do that, and we'll have to deal with the weekly testing in order for them to keep their employment. And I think we can do it, I just worry about getting enough tests. And you know, the internal effort. I mean, having somebody administer those tests, record, track all that data, that's going to be a full time job for somebody for a while. So we'll figure it out. We'll get it done. I just I don't know with all the court action going on. I'm just kind of, you know, we've got our plans in place behind the scenes here, but I'm not ready to roll it out until we see what happens with force.

Unknown Speaker
Just saw I just saw a headline into Goshen hospital experiencing its highest patient surge since November of 2020. As he statewide about 2500 people are hospitalized. It was just 1700. Recently, I assume you're still in contact with the situation. They're in Terre Haute Regional Hospital. And what's the situation like there? Because you got you have to think that when you get to that point of filling up the hospitals, again, that can become a really big issue.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, Union Hospital will latest numbers I saw yesterday morning, and I don't don't quote me exactly. But their numbers are up. And their basic unit is pretty full. But there's plenty of overflow for the clamp in Union Hospital over for sale down on Solomon. So all around us, there's capacity, regional doesn't have quite those same numbers. So we still have a lot of bands available. It's just it is going up. So a week from now, two weeks from now, it could be much more of a serious situation on space. And that's always the issue. Because if you're sick, you want to be able to get in there and get treated and get you back home so you can recover. And, you know, you got to have that turnover. We've had that the last few months. But now it seems to be ramping up like it did back in September. And that's what I worry about is just what happens over the next few weeks as we lead into Christmas. Because, you know, that'll be the key of whether there'll be enough space for everybody.

Unknown Speaker
And things are changing so quickly with this omachron variant. I don't know how have you been briefed anything more about that or not? Really,

Unknown Speaker
other than, you know, you read things, but I never know what to believe, you know, I just don't um, it I did see that. Some information from Dr. Fauci recently said it doesn't appear to be as severe of an illness that mean it still can't put you in hospital or doesn't mean it can't, you know, take your life. But that's encouraging to me, but based on just loose, anecdotal, you know, data at this point. And until they get some hard data, I don't like you know, I don't know, you could speculate this stuff every time and get some of it right, some of it wrong. So I just think there's still so many unknowns about all of this and how many more variants are coming down the road and do they get worse, or do they continue to weaken? That would be the best scenario, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. Well, let's move on to the Indiana Gaming Commission. Big news in Terre Haute been two years after the legislature made it possible to choose for the Gaming Commission to choose Churchill Downs as the operator of the facility there and it's all kind of came just a brief background for those joining us here after the commission chose not to renew the license of the original operator which was Lucy luck, and that but That's what the one that the city wanted, I believe, signed a proclamation of sorts asking for Lucy luck. I know you're just happy this process is over. But are you disappointed in how it turned out?

Unknown Speaker
Well, a little bit only because I still feel like the best brand to come to Terre Haute would have been a hard rock, it would have made the most money, which means most money comes back to the community. So, you know, just thinking of it from that perspective, we also really wanted that local partner, that local businessman as being a partner in the project, a big partner, and him wanting to give back to the community in even better bigger ways than he does today. And so disappointing. But you know, when you looked at all four proposals, they were all very good, all good operators, I got to meet and, you know, learn a lot about all of them and their operations and, and individually. So at the end of the day, whoever they would have selected, it's going to work, it's just different than what we thought was gonna happen, because it was I kind of already awarded, and then the whole process changed and started back to square one. So it's been quite a ride, you know, it's been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of just things that have happened that you never expected. And so now at least, you know, they don't have their license quite yet, but they're doing other things they need to do to prepare for that, because they still have to resolve the complaint from Lucy luck about, you know, the awards are taking their license away from them. And before they can award the new when they're going to have to get that resolved.

Unknown Speaker
I see they plan to bring three restaurants, 125, room hotel, 1000 slot machines, 50 table games, but no other proposal was a was as large is this Padis be too big?

Unknown Speaker
No, you know, I think they've really done a great job, they all did great market research, you know, you're gonna make that kind of investment, you know, you got to get that return on investment. And I think Churchill Downs, when you look at their proposal, it was really kind of the biggest and the most, you know, had the most features to it, maybe when you compare now after the fact. And they believe that that's what this market will sustain. And they're pretty confident about that. And so, you know, that's great that we're going to get, you know, something of that magnitude. They're a great business model that they have doing very well financially, as an organization, I did not realize they had so many casinos, until they got involved in this process. And so they're very well versed in this market size. That's kind of what they go for the secondary markets, not the big cities. So I'm feeling really good about it. We've had several phone conversations, since they were, you know, internationally awarded the next step of the process. And I think they're evaluating their their site location that they propose, they're looking at a variety of things to make sure that this project is, you know, the best one yet that they've done. And so that makes me feel really good about that, sir, approach to this.

Unknown Speaker
Have you had an opportunity or chance to start talking with them a little bit? Are they, you know, worked with?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, but there's there are, there's still a lot of pieces that are unsettled. And they can only do so much that they're learning about, you know, just even from the basic zoning and land use and what they're going to need for permitting, just figuring those things out. So they know the system, if the right people connected to the right people within their organization. So they're doing all that due diligence you would need to do in preparation of, you know, getting a final approval from the Gaming Commission.

Unknown Speaker
He didn't mention location, has that been decided yet with them? Are they still you know,

Unknown Speaker
they've proposed one download them all on the south side, us 41 And I 70. And they're still looking at that. I don't know if they're looking at shared that with us. If they're looking at any other options. They may be they mentioned that the meeting, they would consider the side. You know, that's a decision they make and the Gaming Commission has to approve us. local folks here don't have any input in that we can say whatever we want, but they will decide their spot, and then the Gaming Commission will approve their spots. So I don't know any more than that at this point.

Unknown Speaker
That's projected to bring at least one number I saw on some of the reporting. We did about $76 million annual impact to the area. I mean, that's a I mean, that's what you're this has been your whole point all along, hasn't it?

Unknown Speaker
It's a huge economic development project. You know, it really is. And when you talk about the 1000 jobs that are created to build the facility, and the 500 or so employees that will be working there, when they open and then the needs from the community for goods and services, increases workforce at those locations. I mean, when you start breaking this down, unless you think about the impacts of a casino, you really can't think of all these things. And they talk about what these impacts have been in the communities where they put a casino in. And it's just like, you know, this is going to be, it's going to be great for us, it'll probably drop our unemployment rate by at least a percent by itself, but then the revenue that's coming back in that's the key that that comes in through property taxes and business, personal property tax and their fees that they have to pay for people, you know, coming to the casino, all those things, it's about $10 million a year that will be a minimum coming back into our community to be reinvested. Just for us, just on our side, the government side.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. Well, yeah. Isn't that part of a refresh my memory, it's been a while since we got to that point of this whole project that there was a portion or a piece of the pie that came directly into the city coffers. Isn't that right?

Unknown Speaker
So there's multiple pieces of this, if they generate $100 million of annual gross revenue, it's about 10%. So $10 million, will come back into the community. 3 million will go into kind of a fund, local community fund. And we'll have a board of directors that will help nonprofits and a variety of things in the community. Then there's about 2 million that gets split between the city and the county and the school corporation and our Regional Planning Initiative. And then there's about 5 million that comes directly to the city.

Unknown Speaker
So speaking of community, other community events, I just quick This happened a month or so ago, but I wanted to get the the overview Police Department has moved and it went well.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, it went really well. So it happened over just a few days. And we got it done. Got it open. It's just it's it is a great project. I don't say that because you know, I was part of helping get that done. But it turned out even better than I thought it would financially. The location is tremendous. And it looks good. It's got great curb appeal. I mean, everything about it is exciting. It's a tremendous project for the city of Terre Haute.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, that has to be night and day. I've been in the the Formula One. So I can't imagine what it's like to get is

Unknown Speaker
night and day. Yeah. We did a 180 on this one.

Unknown Speaker
Any, it's it's something we haven't talked about in a while too, because it's been under construction, the new Vigo county jail. Any updates on how that's coming along? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker
it's on schedule. The commissioners provided a report recently, and I talked to the sheriff briefly. It'll be open next late next spring, early summer. And so it'll take him a little bit of transition to get everybody in there. But I you know, it's it's it's right where it needs to be. And then what happens with this old jail, don't know, but they're going to be in a brand new facility down there with additional services available. So we're all looking forward to opening the doors and, and putting them in a much better environment than what they're currently.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, you know, that you kind of mentioned this too, but we're seeing in Bloomington or a hospital just moved from downtown to the outskirts. And the city sees it as a big opportunity to do something new in the downtown area. Because this plot of land just opened up and there you'll have a new or an area with a former jail is right next to city hall next to the county courthouse. Do you have any ideas of what you'd like to see done there?

Unknown Speaker
You know, not exactly you know, I've had many conversations with the past commissioners when this project started. And then with the current we've got two new commissioners now. I think they're just open to suggestions. And they want to, you know, hopefully by a year from now, they're completely out of that building or, you know, late, late summer, early fall next year. They're totally out, everything's gone. You know, the 911 Center remains in there. So that that's got to be figured out. But, you know, that's a great, it can be a great green space, it can be utilized for other county functions. I don't know. And you know, that question has just come up this this week, again, to the commissioners. And they basically said they're just going to look at it, you know, over the coming months, and see what the best use of that property is. So I'll be supportive, whatever they do, but you know, I've got some ideas I'm going to share with them.

Unknown Speaker
If you, those of you who listened to the show last week, we talked with Mayor Lynn up about the ready grant presentation they were making that week. Wanted to get an update here with the mayor Bennett about because we I know we've talked about that too, that you have a multi county presentation. Was that something that you gave recently, too?

Unknown Speaker
Yes, we just did and went really well from my perspective. So we had our opportunity to do that last week. And we're asking for about 73 million For 300, over $300 million, with a project in a six county area here in West Central Indiana, you know, we've done our leg work for a very long time that when the regional cities first came out, it kind of happened quickly for us, we didn't have our community plan, there were just a lot of things that we were doing regionally, but not formally, you know, it was a lot of informal activity. And so we we just weren't quite ready for that. But every since that time into them awarding those dollars several years ago, we have worked really hard to position ourselves for a potential second version of that, and that came about. And so I feel really good about the projects, we put in the ready, grant all things that meet their criteria, and all the hot points with what the state's trying to do with workforce development and talent retention and economic development activities across the board, educational component. We think we hit all of those. And so how much do we get funded, I don't know. But whatever we get, we're going to be much appreciative of that. And we're going to make sure those dollars get invested in a way that we're going to see over the next 510 15 years. See the benefits and, and the growth that occurs because of those projects. We haven't we, I feel really, really good about our proposal, and just can't wait till they roll out and tell us what you know, what the awards are going to be.

Unknown Speaker
And I know you can't, we don't have time to get into all of it. But are there a couple key projects that you would love to see funded?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, there's several housing projects in there that will have a big private sector component to that, but I think is important. I think that all of our colleges and universities have a project in there, that's going to help with educational components, but also the workforce development component, I think is something we need here. I have a new athletic facility with a waterpark, you know, we're proposing here for Vigo County, that I'm really excited about two new hotels downtown with a parking garage support our convention center, ready to roll with that with mostly private investment with that state component. So I think it's a variety of things that are kind of government specific, but then some really significant private sector projects that if we get this funding, we're gonna happen and they just might not happen without that.

Unknown Speaker
And I believe he had a little update with us on some ARPA funds to,

Unknown Speaker
yeah, city council last week approved expending just under $5 million of our $36 million total lot of that going to the public safety costs related to COVID, primarily, quite a bit in that the revenue loss that we've had in a couple of areas. And so really, what we did was make ourselves hold for 20 and 21, or some of the losses and some of the expenditures we've had, I feel really good going into 22. Now that we can focus that remaining 31 million on things that are more community oriented versus just taking care of getting ourselves back to square one and city government. So we will begin meeting again in January a little team, we're going to get a significant community input into the process, and figure out what the best uses of those funds are because we can partner some of that with a ready grant. We can partner that with some other brands that we're looking at with the state that it just opens up so many areas for us to leverage that money to make it go even further.

Unknown Speaker
I know we only have a couple minutes left, but I'm asking all the mayor's on this show to kind of close out here to take a look back over the past year because this is the last show of 2021 and ask the mayor for Terre Haute and just maybe look back what was the one maybe biggest challenge and maybe one or two biggest successes of 2021?

Unknown Speaker
Well, I think it's a dual challenge was just COVID Obviously, and just workforce. Everybody tells me all the time we have trouble filling all of our summer positions, it was nearly impossible. It's frustrating for business to not have the staff that you whether you're a restaurant or manufacture, healthcare are all struggling. And so that's been our been our biggest community challenge. And it's COVID related, obviously, but not all COVID. So I think there's a dual track there. As COVID goes away, and we're still going to have a workforce issue. So we got we've really got to work on that the next couple of years. We need a bigger pool of people Indiana needs to grow. Their whole Vigo county needs to grow. We need more people available for the workforce, and I'm trying to help you get plugged in somewhere that we need more people. That's the key.

Unknown Speaker
And then what are some other couple successes.

Unknown Speaker
successes, um, I feel really good about our road projects this past year. You know, we completed Lafayette Avenue did a lot of paving more paving than we've done? Gosh, in the last, since I've been in office for one year, feel really good about that infrastructure investment. And what I've got coming in the next couple of years is going to be really even better. So I think that was a big success moving into the police station, getting close to wrapping up the convention center. We just we've had some big projects, you know, on the table here and getting those done and now figuring out what those next big ones are we got an overpass that'll get started in 23. Our second of our three overpasses you know, we just keep moving these big projects forward. Couldn't be any more excited. Our financial systems situation is solid. And we're doing really well there. So I'm just looking at how to spend these dollars. We're getting to the infrastructure bill, the Arca the casino, all these different sources are going to give us an opportunity to invest in ourselves. We don't need it for the budget. We need it for the community. So I'm really excited about what the next few years hold for us. It's going to be great.

Unknown Speaker
Well, thank you again, so much for your time. Do you have any other last minute announcements or last?

Unknown Speaker
Oh, I would say is, you know, we had our miracle on Seventh Street downtown over the weekend in the parade. I mean, we had people stand on seven or eight deep, the whole parade route. It was tremendous. It just kind of gives you that, you know, holiday spirit, but kind of reflected on the year a little bit as I was riding, you know, through the parade and just looking around at the people in downtown makes me excited. And I just I hope people are positive and encouraged as we move forward as a community. And you know, I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Just hope that all of your wishes come true.

Unknown Speaker
Well, thank you again. Appreciate your time, and I hope we get to see you again in 2022.

Unknown Speaker
All right, Joe, thank you. Thank you
Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett (Zoom)

Like most places, Terre Haute is experiencing a COVID surge, Churchill Downs has been selected as the new casino operator, the city allocates American Rescue Plan Act funds, and the mayor reflects on 2021.

On this week’s installment of Ask The Mayor, Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett addresses these issues and more on a Zoom conference call. Listen to the full conversation with Indiana Newsdesk anchor Joe Hren by clicking on the play button above, or read some of the questions and answers below. A portion of this segment airs 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on WFIU.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Hren: The Thanksgiving holiday just ended, we have colder temperatures have kind of this recipe for COVID spreading, what's the situation in Terre Haute and what are the metrics for more restrictions or mask mandates?

READ MORE: Monroe County reports 94 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, most since January

Bennett: I guess kind of the bottom line is what I'm hearing is yes, there are some people that are being hospitalized, but they're not quite as sick as they were before and not as many people on ventilators. So that's encouraging. It appears to be the delta here still not seeing the newest variant.

I think the vaccinations have leveled off. I think maybe the news of the new Omicron variant is causing a few people to be concerned. When I was out in the community yesterday saying I'm just going to do it now. I just think we got to keep your guard up, it's kind of the same message, nothing has really changed. It's not over.

I think the county kind of made a decision not to do anything, several months ago. So I would say kind of hold our own here on and keep the recommendations that we have in place, but nothing mandate wise. Hopefully get through this winter season and come out on the other side looking a lot better.

Rocksino Terre Haute exterior
The city wanted the Lucy Luck proposal featuring a Rocksino. (Courtesy photo)

Hren: Big news in Terre Haute recently, the Gaming Commission chose Churchill Downs as the operator of the facility after the commission chose not to renew the license of the original operator which was Lucy luck, and that's the one the city wanted. I know you're happy this process is over. But are you disappointed?

Bennett: A little bit only because I still feel like the best brand to come to Terre Haute would have been a Hard Rock, it would have made the most money, which means more money comes back to the community. We also really wanted that local partner, that local businessman and him wanting to give back to the community in even better, bigger ways than he does today.

When you looked at all four proposals, they were all very good, all good operators, I got to meet and learn a lot about all of them and their operations. So it's been quite a ride, it's been a lot of ups and downs.

They don't have their license quite yet, but they're doing other things they need to do to prepare for that, because they still have to resolve the complaint from Lucy Luck about taking their license away from them. And before they can award the new one, they're going to have to get that resolved.

When you look at their proposal, it was really kind of the biggest and had the most featurest. And they believe that's what this market will sustain. And they're pretty confident about that. They're a great business model that they have done very well financially, I did not realize they had so many casinos. And so they're very well versed in this market size.

Churchill Downs proposed rendering of Terre Haute casino
Churchill Downs concept of Queen of Terre Haute casino resort. (Courtesy photo)

Hren: Any mention of the casino location?

Bennett: They've proposed one down by the mall on the south side, US 41 and I-70 and they're still looking at that. I don't know if they're looking at any other options. They mentioned at the meeting, they would consider the east side. That's a decision they make and the Gaming Commission has to approve. Us local folks here don't have any input in that - we can say whatever we want, but they will decide their spot.

Hren: That's projected to bring about a $76 million annual impact to the area. This has been your whole point all along, hasn't it?

Bennett: It's a huge economic development project. When you talk about the 1,000 jobs that are created to build the facility, and the 500 or so employees that will be working there, and then the needs from the community for goods and services, increases workforce at those locations.

It'll probably drop our unemployment rate by at least a percent by itself, but then the revenue that's coming back in that's the key. That comes in through property taxes and business, personal property tax and their fees that they have to pay for people coming to the casino, it's about $10 million a year that will be a minimum coming back into our community to be reinvested. Just for us, just on our side, the government side.

If they generate $100 million of annual gross revenue, it's about 10%. So $10 million will come back into the community. $3 million will go into kind of a local community fund. And we'll have a board of directors that will help nonprofits and a variety of things in the community. Then there's about $2 million that gets split between the city and the county and the school corporation and our Regional Planning Initiative. And then there's about $5 million that comes directly to the city.

Hren: For those of you who listened to the show last week, we talked with Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop about the READI grant presentation they were making that week. Was that something that you gave recently, too?

Bennett: Yes, we just did and went really well from my perspective. We're asking for about $73 million for over $300 million worth of projects in a six county area here in West Central Indiana. We have worked really hard to position ourselves for a potential second version of that- workforce development, talent retention, and economic development activities across the board, the educational component - we think we hit all of those. And so how much do we get funded, I don't know.

There's several housing projects in there that will have a big private sector component to that, but I think is important. I think that all of our colleges and universities have a project in there that's going to help with educational components, but also the workforce development component, I think is something we need here.

I have a new athletic facility with a waterpark we're proposing here for Vigo County that I'm really excited about, two new hotels downtown with a parking garage to support our convention center, ready to roll with that with mostly private investment with that state component.

Hren: And I believe you have an update on some of the ARPA funds too?

Bennett: City Council last week approved expending just under $5 million of our $36 million total going to the public safety costs related to COVID, primarily, quite a bit in that the revenue loss that we've had in a couple of areas.

And so really, what we did was make ourselves hold for 2020 and 2021, with some of the losses and some of the expenditures we've had. I feel really good going into 2022 now that we can focus that remaining $31 million on things that are more community oriented versus just taking care of getting ourselves back to square one and city government.

So we will begin meeting again in January, we're going to get significant community input into the process, and figure out what the best uses of those funds are because we can partner some of that with a READI grant that it just opens up so many areas for us to leverage that money to make it go even further.

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