Whiting Lakefront Park Sets New Standard for the Lake Michigan Shoreline

City, region state and federal officials, area business leaders and residents gathered yesterday evening on Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline to dedicate the new Whiting Lakefront Park.

Click here to watch Mayor Joe Stahura’s remarks at the dedication.
Click here to watch Congressman Pete Visclosky’s remarks at the dedication.
Click here to watch Bill Hanna and Gerry Dick discuss the project and more on Inside Indiana Business.

“It never gets old, looking behind me at one of our most famous suburbs – Chicago,” quipped Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura, referring to the park’s view of the Chicago skyline across Lake Michigan. The mayor extended the thanks of his community to all members of the RDA, past and present, for the financial assistance which made the project possible. “You also deserve much of the credit for the millions of dollars in additional public and private investment being made in our community today,” he added.
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Report Charts Path for Trauma Care in NWI

The Board of Directors of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) accepted a new report at today’s board meeting that examined the potential for a trauma center and academic medical center in Northwest Indiana

The report, developed by consulting firm KatzSapperMiller (Indianapolis), found that building a new trauma center in Northwest Indiana would likely cannibalize patients and jobs from existing facilities. Similarly, a separate academic medical center (also often called a “teaching hospital”) is not justified given the number of available hospital beds in the region.
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Jeorse Beach Project in East Chicago Kicks Off

The City of East Chicago held a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday to celebrate the beginning of work to restore the Lake Michigan shoreline in East Chicago. The RDA has provided $17 million in matching funds for this and other lakefront revitalization projects planned in East Chicago over the next several years.

“Restoring the shoreline in East Chicago will encourage new business development and give residents of East Chicago a tremendous asset to enjoy for generations to come,” says Ed Glover, East Chicago’s representative on the RDA Board of Directors. According to East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland, the Jeorse Beach project is part of $30 million in improvements across the city being done this year.

The East Chicago lakefront revitalization is one of several Marquette Plan projects the RDA has funded in lhiting, Hammond, Portage and Gary. Overall, the RDA and lakeshore communities have invested more than $200 million in the Lake Michigan shoreline since 2006. Over the next ten years, these investments are projected to generate more than 1,000 jobs and will add $93 million a year to the region’s total economic output by 2025.

Amended RFQ for Environmental Services

The RDA recently issued a request for qualifications for environmental services related to an EPA brownfields assessment grant. That RFQ has subsequently been amended to remove a typographical error. The amended RFQ can be downloaded by clicking this link (pdf).

The original announcement can be found here.

For more information, visit the Northwest Indiana Brownfields Coalition Web site.

Progress Continues at the Gary/Chicago International Airport

Of all the projects in which the RDA has been involved, none has tested us more than the runway expansion and railroad relocation project at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. But perseverance and teamwork of all the partners involved in the project is paying off, with the final major barrier to completion now poised to come down later this year.

Since 2006, the RDA has invested a total of $50 million in the project, which has involved not only the new runway, but also extensive environmental remediation, construction of new rail bridges and tracks, relocation of a NIPSCO substation, burial of power lines and other utility work, construction of a long box culvert to address drainage issues, the building of a four-lane vehicle overpass on Airport Road and many other projects large and small.

As a result, the airport is poised to contribute significantly to the regional economy. Based on similar projects elsewhere around the country, expansion of the Gary/Chicago International Airport will create more than 2,400 new jobs in Northwest Indiana by 2025, more than half of which will be in transportation, warehousing and manufacturing. These jobs will generate and estimated $169 million in disposable income annually and have an overall yearly economic impact of more than half a billion dollars.

RDA Issues Request for Qualifications for Environmental Services

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) is soliciting Qualifications from firms interested in providing professional environmental services to support implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grant and Brownfield Redevelopment Programs for a coalition consisting of the cities of East Chicago, Gary, and Hammond, Indiana. Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) are encouraged to respond to this solicitation.

You can download the RFQ here.

Deadline for submission is 4 p.m., September 19, 2014. If you have any questions about the submission procedure, please contact Grants Manager Jillian Huber at jahuber (at) rda.in.gov.

Sheraton Demolition on Schedule, HUD Secretary Visits Project

(left to right) RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna, HUD Secretary Julian Castro and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro was in Gary in August meeting with local officials and checking out the ongoing demolition of the abandoned Sheraton Hotel. HUD, the Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Gary and the Regional Development Authority have all partnered to fund the removal of the longstanding eyesore.

Secretary Castro said the demolition project was the kind of catalytic efforts HUD supports in order to revitalize communities and create jobs. You can watch a video of his opening remarks here. More photos are on our Facebook page here.

This is just one example of the RDA leveraging federal funding to improve Northwest Indiana. Other projects include partnerships with the EPA on stormwater mitigation and environmental cleanup in Miller and brownfields assessment and remediation in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago. Over the next decade, we plan to partner with the Federal Transit Administration to build the West Lake Corridor. This extension of the South Shore commuter rail line will take more than 5,000 riders to high-paying jobs in Chicago every day. They will bring back nearly $150 million in annual income to spend here in Northwest Indiana, an economic boost that will add nearly 2,000 non-commuter jobs in the region. For more information, check out NICTD’s brand-new web site on the project!