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The RDA was created to partner with others in the “heavy lifting” required to develop the infrastructure that will make Northwest Indiana economically vibrant. The legislation that created the RDA directs us to focus on our region’s collective assets. These regional assets are interrelated as the basic building blocks of a local economy that must become globally competitive.
In 2013, the RDA will continue its strategic focus on priority projects and find innovative ways to advance its mission for redeveloping Northwest Indiana. The following are key objectives guiding the RDA over the coming year.
1. The Regional Development Authority has provided $50 million for the work at airport; therefore, it is incumbent upon the RDA to ensure that the project is carried through to completion in 2013. In order to accomplish this, the RDA will maintain its close engagement with the Gary Chicago International Airport Board of Directors via its existing working group.
2. The RDA will further promote increased airport usage as outlined in the strategic business plan developed for the airport by Landrum & Brown.
3. The RDA will work with state lawmakers and the Indiana Department of Transportation to improve access to the Airport.
4. The RDA will also develop a comprehensive land-use plan and explore the use of land banking as a way to guide development.
5. The RDA will work closely with elected officials in Gary to ensure that any concerns they have regarding the airport, its future development, management, or other issues are addressed in a complete and timely fashion. The administration in Gary has committed to completing this project so the city can reap the economic rewards of an active, vital airport. The RDA is grateful for their close cooperation and intends to continue to build its relationship with the city in order to create a foundation for the long-term success of the airport.
1. The RDA has combined its previous bus and commuter rail working groups into a new surface transportation working group. This committee will advance toward the development of a regional solution for bus transit in northwest Indiana. This group will encourage the development of business and capital plans to build and maintain a system that serves all of northwest Indiana. A strong system will help to create jobs, improve quality of life, provide environmental benefits, and reduce congestion on northwest Indiana’s already crowded roads.
2. Commuter rail is the second component of mass transit in northwest Indiana. Coordination between NICTD and northwest Indiana’s bus systems is crucial for the future of both entities. The federal government, a key funding source for mass transit, is no longer inclined to fund separate rail and bus projects. Instead, federal agencies now insist on combined regional mass transit plans. Buses also play a key role in transporting rail passengers over “the last mile,” i.e. to and from the station. Closer cooperation between all mass transit authorities will generate synergies that will accelerate the economic and environmental benefits of both transportation methods.
3. The RDA will partner with NICTD to produce a strategic business plan to guide expansion and development of the South Shore line, improve commuter access to the Chicago market and encourage job creation and economic development in Northwest Indiana through Transit-Oriented Development.
1. The RDA will continue to monitor the status of unfinished projects tied to the Marquette Plan to ensure that they are carried through to completion and that the work being done is conducted by Indiana-based companies whenever possible. The RDA will also continue to document the return on investment of these projects.
2. To build on the shoreline transformation currently underway, the RDA will work with local community leaders to secure a defined economic development/corridor plan for each community. This will guide the community as it seeks to exploit its new and improved resources.
3. The RDA will also work with local leaders to ensure that defined and fully funded operations and maintenance plans to support the improvements are developed and implemented.
4. Finally, the RDA will update the Marquette Plan to take completed projects into account.
1. Based on the RDA’s overall mission, the Board of Directors has created an economic development working group which will explore the creation of an economic development blueprint focused on the transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL) industries. This strategy will include workforce, infrastructure, and planning elements.
2. The RDA will also develop and implement tracking protocols to enable it to monitor the economic development projects in which the RDA has a stake.
3. The RDA will continue to work with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to support job creation in Northwest Indiana.
1. The RDA will present the results of its Return On Investment study, which found that the $210 million worth of projects funded by the RDA to date have generated $1.1 billion in economic activity, a rate of return of more than 500 percent, and created or supported more than 2,000 jobs.
2. The RDA will advocate for continuation of state funding of the RDA beyond 2015.
3. The RDA will implement an overall communications strategy to raise awareness of the RDA’s positive economic impact on state, regional and local levels and to garner active support on RDA initiatives through key constituencies and public involvement
4. The RDA will increase dialogue and raise awareness at the Federal and State Government levels about the RDA’s partnership role as a financial and intergovernmental intermediary on projects of regional significance in order to diversify project revenue using RDA funds as local match and increase the ratio of financial leverage from public sector investment.
5. We will also increase dialogue and raise awareness with private sector investors and non-governmental entities, such as major foundations, about the RDA’s role in funding economic development projects that will generate high rates of return on investment and will result in diversifying the tax base and enhancing quality of life in Northwest Indiana.
6. The RDA will Integrate the newly-appointed members of the Board of Directors into the governance structure