(Editor’s note: as part of our RDA Transformations video project, the Regional Development Authority asked area communities what RDA had meant to them. This is one of a series of community narratives that were provided to us. Earlier Snapshots can be found here and here.)
The Lakefront Project has resulted in an atmosphere which has been conducive to investment in the community. First the project spurred the City’s investment in Oil City Stadium in preparation for the Lakefront Project freeing up necessary land by moving the previous baseball field from the lakefront. This city stadium investment was able to attract a collegiate league team later to be branded the NWI Oilmen using the stadium as its home field. Two permanent jobs were created and 30 part time. The Oilmen bring in 300 to 800 fans to the stadium for each game. Maintaining this influx of fans has brought visibility, viability, and investment to the community.
The Lakefront Project is stimulating investment also as a result of the quality of life impact the Lakefront Project is having. Four restaurants have popped up since the letting of the project in various stages of operation. The investors in each of the restaurants, has benchmarked the Lakefront Project as being one of the factors for their investment in the community.
BP has partnered with the City of Whiting in past projects and recognizes the value of the direction the Lakefront project has propelled the community. With this in mind, BP has invested in a training campus costing $12 million. Focusing on what the RDA investment is doing to transition the Lakefront, the refinery is visioning possible opportunities going forward building on the amenities and atmosphere created by the RDA Lakefront project.
New investors have approached the city regarding expanding the business district with construction of multi-use facilities. A city/private partnership has taken life to create a lakefront restaurant. This investment will enhance the accessibility to the lake through the creation of a year round destination at the lakefront.
The RDA Lakefront Project has served as an economic driver enabling decisions to be made based on the positive direction of the community and the lakefront accessibility. Linked with the RDA efforts in Hammond and the connectivity of the bike path network also funded by the RDA, the synergy of both communities with the moniker “Southern Shores” has, and will be an economic driver going forward.