RDA: Companies considering relocating to NWI could bring 300 jobs
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org October 16, 2012 2:34PM
Updated: November 18, 2012 6:50AM
The Regional Development Authority on Tuesday approved a $4.45 million incentive package for three firms that are considering relocating to Northwest Indiana.
The contracts aren’t final, so RDA officials wouldn’t identify the companies or where they are moving from. Two of the firms are eyeing Lake County and another firm is considering Porter County.
An estimated 314 new jobs would be created by the firms. The potential investment by the firms would be about $56 million.
Board member Peter Novak demurred when asked if the businesses are from Illinois. Several Illinois-based businesses, including Modern Forge, have relocated to Indiana in the past year as the neighboring state’s business taxes rose to cover budget deficits.
“It’s a very real opportunity for Indiana, and we’re positioned very well where other states are not,” Novak said.
Modern Forge moved to Merrillville in August 2011 with the aid of funds from the RDA’s Deal Closing Fund. Improvements to Kirk Yard in Gary also benefitted from the fund, which aims to bring jobs and economic development to Northwest Indiana.
The RDA received the funding requests after the Indiana Economic Development Corp. committed to $4.7 million and local communities offered incentives such as tax abatements and tax-increment finance district funding.
“It’s important that the local communities exhaust any incentives they have available along with the state, then they come to us as gap funding,” Novak said.
Novak stressed that the board is allocating these resources in the event the firms need them. Board member Harley Snyder asked what would happen to the money if the firms changed their minds, and board chairman Leigh Morris said the money would revert back to the RDA.
In other news, the board received an update on the progress of the $168 million runway expansion project at the Gary/Chicago International Airport, which is expected to be complete in December 2013. Several phases of the relocation of the EJ&E rail lane are complete or nearing completion. Track and signal construction will start as soon as the ballast projects are complete. Workers have cleared the runway extension, and bids for the paving contract will be invited in December.
Interim Airport Director Steve Landry said Allegiant Air is resuming service this week to Sanford, Fla., and the airport expects to meet its 10,000-passenger target in December. The airport will receive $850,000 in federal airport improvement funds if Allegiant Air meets that target.