Restoring the Great Lakes

A look at the ongoing Great Lakes Legacy Act. Projects include the dredging on the Grand Calumet in Northwest Indiana. When finished, the program will restore an estimated $50 billion in value to Great Lakes communities.

EPA Awards RDA Grant for Brownfield Cleanup Fund

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the RDA $800,000 toward the establishment of a $1 million revolving loan fund for brownfield remediation in the cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.

The RDA was one of 240 grant recipients who will receive $62.5 million from the EPA’s Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (ARC) grants. The RDA grant was one of just five awarded in Indiana, and the largest outside of Indianapolis.

“This EPA grant will help clean up contaminated properties in Northwest Indiana,” Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said. “The grant will spur redevelopment, help build new housing and create jobs in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.”
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Memorial Day

In observance of Memorial Day the office of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority will be closed on Monday, May 27, 2013 and will resume regular business hours on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. The staff wishes everyone a delightful and safe holiday weekend and as Americans, may we never forget those who fought for our freedom, and may we celebrate the lives of those who have truly made America the land of the free and the home of the brave.

May God bless our Veterans and may God bless America.

RDA Board Welcomes New Chairman, Members

Don Fesko, CEO of Munster-based Community Hospital and Gov. Mike Pence’s new appointee to the Board of Directors of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA), was elected Chairman of the Board at yesterday’s spring meeting. The unanimous vote also re-elected Harley Snyder to the position of Vice Chairman and Bill Joiner to the position of Secretary/Treasurer.

Fesko’s first actions were to call for votes on three resolutions honoring departing Chairman Leigh Morris and departing board members Lou Martinez and Pete Novak. “You three have set the bar very high and we appreciate all of your service,” he said. Martinez was replaced as Lake County’s appointee to the board by Randy Palmateer, Business Manager for the Northwestern Indiana Building Trades Council. Tom Dabertin, former Chief of Staff to Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, Jr. becomes Hammond’s appointee to the board in place of Novak.

The board also heard a report from attorney Dave Hollenbeck on new responsibilities given to the RDA during the recently concluded session of the Indiana General Assembly. The legislature has directed the RDA to conduct studies on the feasibility of building a trauma center and an academic medical center in Northwest Indiana. Both studies have a deadline of November 2014. The board plans to begin addressing the scope of the studies immediately so as to hit the ground running when the new statute becomes effective on July 1.

Four grants under the RDA’s Community Challenge grant program were approved at the meeting. These grants total $525,000. The four awardees are:

  • Sheraton Hotel Demolition (Gary) – RDA’s $200,000 would leverage $1,070,000 in federal funds
  • Valparaiso Sewer Lift Station – RDA’s $200,000 would match about $90,000 in local funds and over $80 million in capital investment around the Valparaiso area where the lift station would attract new jobs and private investment along the 49 corridor.
  • Indiana Dunes Shifting Sands Documentary – RDA’s $50,000 would leverage $200,000 in state and federal dollars. This documentary highlights regional partnerships that have contributed to the progress underway with the restoration of the Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Transportation – RDA’s $75,000 match would leverage about $200,000 in federal funds. It would fund purchase of one of four alternative-fuel shuttle buses with a small portion going towards a marketing effort. Goals of project are the increased use of South Shore Line and spurring economic development in the region.

The RDA Community Challenge Fund provides matching grants to leverage funds from the private sector and/or public entities for public initiatives or projects of regional significance. The Fund has an annual authorization of $1 million per year and a maximum of $200,000 per grant.

The board also authorized the potential use of its Deal Closing Fund on a project currently under negotiation by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). “This would be a significant project with a credible employer,” said RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna. “If completed, it could be the largest project we have been involved in.” Further details are not available as IEDC negotiations are ongoing.

The RDA created its Deal Closing Fund in 2011 to support job creation in Northwest Indiana. It has previously employed the fund to help bring Modern Forge’s new facility to Merrillville, the Land O’Frost headquarters to Munster and improvements by CN to the Kirk Yard in Gary.

Calumet Summit Promotes Regional Environmental Cooperation

The Calumet Summit is in its second day at the Marquette Park Pavilion in Gary.

The theme of this year’s Calumet Summit at the Marquette Park Pavilion is Connecting for Action. Leaders from nonprofit groups, industry and local, state and federal governments are among the more than 100 people participating in the event coordinated by the Calumet Stewardship Initiative.

Congressman Peter Visclosky, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna each delivered brief remarks yesterday morning to welcome guests to the event.

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Gary Airport Expansion Project Honors Tuskegee Airman Quentin P. Smith

(Left to right) Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna and Quentin P. Smith Jr.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson joined the board of directors of The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority and other city and regional dignitaries today to dedicate the new $11.6 million Airport Road overpass in honor of World War II Tuskegee Airman Quentin P. Smith, long-time Gary leader, educator and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal.

The new Quentin P. Smith Tuskegee Airman Memorial Bridge marks a significant milestone in the airport’s $166 million expansion project scheduled to be completed this year and is emblematic of the commitment of city and regional leaders to develop the airport – Chicago’s real third airport – and the surrounding area for good-paying jobs and sustainable growth.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority funded construction of the $11.6 million overpass. The overpass can be seen here in the third photo during construction last fall.

“When I think of the Tuskegee airmen and a man like Quentin P. Smith, I can’t help but think of hard-fought progress and the need we all have to gain opportunities to prove ourselves,” said Bill Hanna, President and CEO of the RDA. “As inspiring as Mr. Smith’s life story is, his legacy sets the bar very high. It will be incumbent upon us to honor his memory by doing our part to develop Gary/Chicago International Airport to its fullest potential.”

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Hammond Debuts New Web Site for Wolf Lake Pavilion

The City of Hammond has launched a new Web site to promote events at the Wolf Lake Pavilion. The new site,, includes information about the facility, tickets and other nearby attractions like the Lost Marsh Golf Course and Horseshoe Casino.

The Wolf Lake Pavilion was built as part of the $54 million Hammond Lakes Project, a partnership between the city and the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.