On behalf of the Board of Directors and the staff of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, we are pleased to present our fiscal 2012 annual report. The Board treats its fiduciary responsibilities to the citizens and elected officials of Northwest Indiana with utmost seriousness and are pleased to report that this year’s annual independent audit of RDA finances shows that more than 95 percent of funds we receive are being used directly on job creation and infrastructure development throughout the region.
In 2012, the RDA undertook its first in-depth examination of the economic impact of its ongoing investments. Since its creation in 2006, the RDA has invested approximately $211 million in shoreline redevelopment, surface transportation, expansion of the Gary/Chicago International Airport and economic development efforts in cooperation with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. This investment has attracted an additional $540 million in local, federal and private investment, and together will generate a total economic impact of more than $1.1 billion for the region by 2015. By 2025, this activity will have created or be supporting an estimated 4,000 jobs. More details about this impact and the additional jobs and income the RDA is creating for Northwest Indiana can be found later in this report. The complete return-on-investment analysis is available on our Web site.
Other notable developments in 2012 included:
- Opening of the $4 million George Lake Pedestrian Bridge, named a 2012 Outstanding Transportation Project by the Indiana Metropolitan Planning Organization Council.
- The grand re-opening of the Marquette Park Pavilion, later recognized as the Historic Restoration of 2012 by Masonry Construction Online.
- Record ridership on the Chicago Dash Commuter Buses between Valparaiso and downtown Chicago.
- Recognition of RDA-aided economic development projects in Area Development magazine’s 2012 Silver Shovel Awards for Excellence in Economic Development.
- The award of our first Community Challenge Grant to the Town of Pines in Porter County.
- Launch of our blog and related social media efforts.
Looking forward to 2013, the RDA should see the completion of work at Wolf Lake in Hammond, Marquette Park in Miller, Lakefront Park in Whiting and at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. We have begun planning for the next phase of investments in the region, which will include improved commuter connectivity to Chicago, a key driver of the region’s future growth. To this end, the RDA partnered in late 2012 with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), operator of the South Shore commuter railroad, on a strategic business plan that will be finished in early 2014.
We are also working with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) to update the Marquette Plan to reflect the progress made toward realizing its vision of recapturing 75 percent of the lakeshore for public use. The RDA continues to work with shoreline communities to leverage lakefront redevelopment into private development and investment in their cities and towns. A powerful example can be found in Whiting, where a new baseball stadium, new housing and new businesses and restaurants have followed the redevelopment of the Lakefront Park.
Both of us would like to take this opportunity to thank the dedicated members of our Board – who receive no compensation for the many hours they so generously give to the RDA – our staff and our team of consultants for all they have done over the past year. Together, we will continue the work of fulfilling Northwest Indiana’s potential as the state’s greatest economic engine.
Donald P. Fesko
Chairman of the Board
President and CEO