Air Show Returning to Marquette Park in 2015

The Gary air show is returning to Marquette Park in July of 2015, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced at a November press conference at the Marquette Pavilion. The city is partnering with business at the Gary/Chicago International Airport to produce the event.

Referring to the RDA-funded restoration of Marquette Park, the Mayor noted that “what was done at Marquette Park was done with the air show in mind, and this really does bring together two of the RDA’s most significant investments,” the park and the airport. Added Gary Common Councilman Ronald Brewer, “we have had all these great renovations, and now it’s time to show off our jewel.”

Wil Davis, owner of the Gary Jet Center, pledged his support in making the air show happen next year. “We are bringing the air show back to Miller where it belongs,” he said. Mayor Freeman-Wilson noted that the show will drive tourism dollars into the city, and Gary Chamber President/CEO Chuck Hughes said that was great news for businesses in Gary that the air show used to boost. “Many members of the Chamber look forward to being vendors at the show,” he said.

The RDA invested $28 million in the renovations at Marquette Park as part of the Marquette Plan to recover 75% of the shoreline for public use. This attracted an additional $2 million from federal sources. To date, the RDA and local communities have invested more than $200 million in shoreline improvements in Hammond, Gary, East Chicago, Whiting and Portage over the past nine years. This investment is projected to create more than 1,000 jobs, primarily in the tourism and hospitality industries, and add more than $90 million annually to the region’s economy by 2025.

South Shore Expansion Funding Drive Continues

Bad news for commuters who drive to work in Chicago: the cost of parking is going up. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is raising the city’s parking tax to 22 percent on weekdays, which would give Chicago the highest parking tax in the nation. That’s all the more reason to expand and upgrade the South Shore train line and give Northwest Indiana residents even more options for accessing high-paying careers in Chicago.

Congressman Pete Visclosky recently sat down with with to talk about the $571 million West Lake Corridor extension and how it will be funded.

Northwest Indiana residents had an opportunity to give their thoughts on the proposed West Lake Corridor project at a meeting hosted by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD). More than 100 people turned out to learn about and comment on the project.

“People were generally supportive of the expansion,” says RDA COO Sherri Ziller, who was on hand to answer questions about financing. “Understandably there are concerns about cost, the locations of stations, the impact on traffic and many other aspects of the project, but there’s also an awareness of the huge potential benefits to the region.”

The session was part of the process of drafting a federally required environmental impact statement for the project. “We want to make sure that anyone who is interested can voice their opinion and be heard,” says NICTD Planning and Marketing Director John Parsons. “Anyone who is not able to come to a public session can also submit comments online at”

In continuing support of the expansion project, both the Northwest Indiana Forum and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission recently renewed their backing for the West Lake Corridor project. Both groups passed resolutions calling for extended state funding for the RDA and expanding the South Shore in 2013 and have updated them for this year.

The West Lake Corridor extension and upgrades to the existing line are projected to create nearly 2,000 jobs in Northwest Indiana. The project is part of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s 20-year strategic plan to create jobs and boost the economy of the region and the state. When in full operation, the extension will serve more than 5,000 daily riders who will bring back about $147 million in annual salaries to spend on goods and services in Northwest Indiana. That’s a 62% increase over the income returned by the existing South Shore line. The extension will also increase property values, spur transit-oriented development in communities on and near the new line, and increase the region’s attractiveness to companies looking to relocate to Indiana. The RDA has pledged $8 million annually over the next 30 years to fuel construction of the West Lake Corridor.

Lakeshore Restoration Gets Statewide Attention

Regional Development Authority President and CEO joined Inside Indiana Business’ Gerry Dick recently to discuss the transformation of the Whiting Lakefront Park into a lakeshore destination for Northwest Indiana. The project, fueled by $22 million in RDA grants, has attracted tens of millions more in local, federal and private investment in Whiting, including a new baseball stadium, new residential and retail development and infrastructure upgrades. Watch Gerry and Bill discuss the Whiting Lakefront Park and its broader implications for the region and the state of Indiana here.

This project is among the Marquette Plan projects the RDA has funded in Whiting, Hammond, Portage, East Chicago 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.