Hitchcock Design held a celebration last evening at Marquette Park to mark the (almost) completion of the park rehabilitation project. Several local officials, including Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna, were invited to make brief remarks. Attendees were also invited on a walking tour to see some on the improvements up close. Some photos of that tour are below the fold.
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.
What if I told you there was a place with great schools, beautiful beaches, tons of outdoor recreation and sports opportunities, low taxes, great people and easy access to one of the biggest, most vibrant cities in the world? Sounds like a great place to (as the phrase goes) live, work and play, right? Well, guess what: that’s all right here in Northwest Indiana.
To help get the word out about the region and what the RDA is doing to grow the economy and improve quality-of-life, we’ve teamed up with the great folks at Ideas in Motion Media and their sites NWIndianaLife.com, ValpoLife.com and PortageLife.com. You can check out our profile here (or here or here!). We’re looking forward to working with them to tell the Northwest Indiana story and make the rest of the state (and country and world) jealous of how good we have it.
The Board of Directors of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority approved a $200,000 matching grant for the City of Hammond during today’s quarterly board meeting. The grant will supplement $800,000 from Hammond for demolition and cleanup work on the 2500 block of New York Avenue.
“Both private developers and Calumet College of St. Joseph have expressed interest in building housing and dormitories in this area if vacant buildings are removed,” said RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna. “With this award we have an opportunity to stay within our role as a catalyst but also support secondary education and the economic benefits commensurate with a strong and diverse regional college and university system.”
According to the city, demolishing the former Amoco Oil Company Research and Development Laboratory, which is vacant, will create approximately $18 million in housing and dorm development opportunities.
RDA Chief Operating Officer Sherri Ziller (third from left) joined local officials at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore today to break ground for the newest section of the Dunes Kankakee Trail. “This project is the definition of regionalism,” she said. This section of the trail will stretch from the entrance to the Dunes back across the new bridges over routes 12 and 20 and connect to the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center. Nearby communities including Chesterton, Porter and Valparaiso have drawn up plans to connect to link in their own trails, creating a network that would provide trail access to the Dunes from all around northern Porter County.
Funding for the project comes from several sources, including approximately $5 million in RDA grants to Porter for its Gateway to the Dunes initiative, a $500,000 federal matching grant secured by Congressman Peter Visclosky (pictured above at far right) and local funds from the town of Porter. Pointing to a nationwide push for trails, Congressman Visclosky said the Dunes Kankakee Trail would improve quality of life in the region and boost property values in communities with trail access.
The RDA was recently awarded an $800,000 competitive EPA grant to establish a revolving loan fund to clean up brownfield sites in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago. Following a press conference, several local and regional officials — including Congressman Pete Visclosky, EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland and RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna — spoke with our video crew about how the award will drive growth and economic development in the region.
For highlights of the press conference click here.
Officials gathered at Wolf Lake in Hammond this morning to dedicate the new conservatory, part of the continuing improvements around the lake. Funded by an RDA grant, the conservatory and surrounding features, which will include a “great lawn,” butterfly garden and zen garden, will provide a contemplative space for local residents and visitors. The conservatory will also allow the city to grow native plants and flowers from seed for use in planters around Hammond, reducing their need to purchase plants and saving the city money.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded the RDA $800,000 toward the establishment of a $1 million revolving loan fund for brownfield remediation in the cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.
The RDA was one of 240 grant recipients who will receive $62.5 million from the EPA’s Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (ARC) grants. The RDA grant was one of just five awarded in Indiana, and the largest outside of Indianapolis.
“This EPA grant will help clean up contaminated properties in Northwest Indiana,” Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said. “The grant will spur redevelopment, help build new housing and create jobs in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago.”