NIRPC Backs RDA Funding Renewal and South Shore Expansion

Supporters and opponents of the Illiana Expressway packed NIRPC’s board meeting today. The board voted in favor of adding the highway to its 2040 Plan.

Most of the action at today’s full board meeting of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission was focused on the organization’s vote on including the proposed Illiana Expressway in its 2040 plan. Without that inclusion, the roadway could not be built. After several hours of debate by supporters and foes of the Illiana — some of which is reflected on the RDA twitter stream, where yours truly was live-tweeting the event — the board voted overwhelmingly in favor of adding the Illiana to its plans.

Following a brief recess after the Illiana vote, the board reconvened to consider several other measures, including resolutions supporting the re-authorization of state funding for the RDA beyond 2015 and increased investment in commuter rail. Both measures, which may be read here (.pdf), were passed unanimously. What some of the board members had to say:

The RDA would like to express its thanks for the support of these officials as well as all the members of NIRPC’s board. We are proud of our role in making the region a better place to live, work and play.

RDA Approves $17 Million Grant for East Chicago

East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland (standing at left) addresses the RDA Board of Directors. The Board approved a $17 million grant to the city during its meeting Tuesday.

The Board of Directors of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has approved a $17 million matching grant for the Waterfront Revitalization Initiative in East Chicago. The grant will help fund phase 1 of the initiative, which includes improvements at Jeorse Park Beach and the East Chicago Marina; street and overpass work; and demolition of vacant properties.

“East Chicago has already invested more than $20 million in the North Harbor community and this grant will allow the city to better connect the neighborhood to the lakeshore and set the stage for economic development,” said Ed Glover, East Chicago’s appointee to the RDA Board of Directors. “Between this investment, other city and INDOT projects, and the new Cline Avenue bridge, East Chicago is set to make a dramatic transformation in just the next few years.”

LISTEN: RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna talks to Inside Indiana Business about how the East Chicago project will spur economic development.

During Tuesday’s Board Meeting, the Directors also approved a $200,000 Challenge Grant for the Town of Kouts in south Porter County. Combined with $445,000 in local funding, the grant will be used to extend infrastructure to 63 acres of land at State Route 49 and 680 South. This location links the Dunes Kankakee Trail with the national American Discovery Trail.

“Development of this location will boost property values, attract private investment and link multiple communities together,” said Jeff Good, Porter County’s representative on the Board. “It’s a great example of partnership between the county, Porter County Parks and Recreation, and the RDA.”

In other action, the Board approved modifications of two previously announced economic development deals. In cooperation with local officials and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) the RDA has employed its Deal-Closing Fund to help secure new jobs and investment in Northwest Indiana. Today, the Board approved a $2.4 million grant from the Fund to support Tec Air’s move to the region. The company is investing approximately $15 million and will employ about 258 people at its new headquarters in Munster.

The Board also approved a reduction in the grant to CN for its expansion of the Kirk Yard in Gary. The funding amount, originally $4 million, was lowered in proportion to CN’s reduction in the scope of the project. The new grant is for $1.8 million.

RDA Deal Closing Fund Helps Bring 258 Jobs to Munster

Tec Air Inc., a designer and manufacturer of plastic air movement components and systems, announced plans today to relocate its Willow Springs, Ill. headquarters to Munster, creating up to 258 new jobs by 2016. The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) has pledged approximately $2 million from its Deal-Closing Fund as part of a package of local and state incentives that attracted the company to the region.

“This is the fifth time in the past two years that we have been able to use our Deal-Closing Fund to bring jobs and private investment to the region,” said Bill Hanna, President and CEO of the RDA. “To date, we have committed about $8 million from the fund in order to seal deals that, including Tec Air, have brought or are bringing more than $450 million in private investment and over 750 jobs to Northwest Indiana.”
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Land O’Frost Breaks Ground in Munster

Gov. Mike Pence (center) speaks with RDA Chairman Don Fesko (far left).

Gov. Mike Pence was in Northwest Indiana this afternoon for a groundbreaking ceremony for Land O’Frost. The company, a manufacturer of pre-sliced, pre-packaged deli products, is moving its corporate headquarters to Munster from Illinois. The RDA has pledged $750,000 from its Deal-Closing Fund as part of a package of incentives put together by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to support the company’s move across the state line. Video of the Governor’s remarks and more photos of the event are below the fold.
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RDA Funds Help Fuel Jobs and New Investment in Porter County

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) has pledged $1.4 million from its Deal Closing Fund as part of a package of local, regional and state incentives that secured a $260 million investment by Pratt Industries, Inc., in Northwest Indiana.

Pratt, America’s fifth-largest largest corrugated packaging company and the world’s largest, privately-held 100% recycled paper and packaging company, will invest approximately $260 million to build and equip a state-of-the-art recycling plant and supporting facilities in Valparaiso. The expansion is projected to create up to 137 new jobs by 2018.
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