We are just a week away from the opening of Interstate 69 from Evansville to Crane.
The 67 mile stretch is opening years ahead of schedule and the cost is $80 million less than originally budgeted.
Now, businesses along the new roadway are coming together to make sure they don't miss any opportunities that I-69 may bring.
"Let's control our own destiny," said Mark Bernhard.
USI's Mark Bernhard was one of the leaders of Monday's Innovation Corridor Development meeting. One that brought together more than 50 business, education, and political leaders.
"With the advent of the new highway coming in, how can we use that as a catalyst for positive growth and innovation along the corridor? What does that mean for all the counties along the corridor?" asks Bernhard.
USI economic researcher Daniela Vidal says during the meeting, the room broke up into small brainstorming groups. Each listing the wants and needs of the region, as well as the viability for each.
"When you talk about an innovation corridor, an innovation hub, there's a metric that the United States of Statistics has developed. An innovative index. So, that's how we divided into four subgroups, to figure out what are the specific steps we can take, so that we can effectively raise our index by 20% by 2025," Vidal said.
Hoping to attract young talent and encourage growth in the area, some of the improvements the group talked about included broadband strength and cultural amenities.
Even with much work to be done, every one agrees getting I-69 up and running is like hanging out an open for business sign across southwestern Indiana.
"To think 67 miles will be open next Monday, it's going to be a banner day for Evansville. Not just Evansville, but for the entire region. This will be a transformational change for our community," Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said.
Again, INDOT says this portion of I-69 will open next Monday afternoon. They say we should know a more approximate time for that opening later this week.
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