RDA in talks for big Porter County business deal
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org May 21, 2013 1:00PM
Community Hospital Administrator Don Fesko. August 29, 2008. Post-Tribune archives
New board members
The board elected Community Hospital CEO Don Fesko as its new chairman at Tuesday morning’s meeting. Fesko is Gov. Mike Pence’s new appointee to the board, replacing Leigh Morris. Harley Snyder and Bill Joiner were unanimously re-elected as vice chairman and secretary/treasurer, respectively.
Morris and outgoing board members Lou Martinez and Pete Novak were praised for their service and vision by the board. Northwest Indiana Building Trades Council business manager Randy Palmateer assumes Martinez’s post as Lake County’s appointee, while Tom Dabertin, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott’s former chief of staff, replaces Novak as the Hammond appointee.
Morris encouraged the board to keep thinking big when it considers which projects to fund.
“The RDA was created as a catalyst for transformation for Northwest Indiana, not just to change it a little for the better,” Morris said. “I believe the best is yet to come.”
Updated: June 23, 2013 6:27AM
MERRILLVILLE — The Regional Development Authority will enter talks to lure an unnamed business to Porter County.
If successful, RDA Executive Director Bill Hanna said the project has the potential to be larger — in terms of investment and number of jobs — than the Canadian National Kirk Yard project.
The RDA board gave Hanna approval to use its $6 million deal closing fund as leverage in completing a deal alongside incentives offered by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
Hanna said the business is currently talking with the IEDC, but he said it’s unclear when a deal might come to fruition.
“It’s very hard to say,” Hanna said.
“It all depends on the speed of the company. The point at which we get involved tends to be near the end, so there’s the potential we could announce the deal at our next board meeting.”
Hanna said the business’ identity is kept secret during negotiations since the state is typically bidding against other states and details could drive up the incentive package, creating a bidding war. Since the RDA is funded by taxpayers, Hanna said it tries to retain as many dollars as it can.
In the Kirk Yard project, the RDA committed $4 million in August 2011 toward a project that promised 251 jobs and $165 million in investment.
CN later lowered its investment to 119 jobs and $141 million, and the incentives will likely be adjusted down at a future date.
In other business, the board approved four challenge grant applications: $200,000 toward the Sheraton Hotel demolition in Gary; $200,000 toward Valparaiso’s Horseprairie Sewer Lift Station; $50,000 toward “Shifting Sands,” a documentary about the restoration of the Lake Michigan shoreline; and $75,000 toward purchasing one of four propane-fueled shuttle buses for use at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Each of the grants accompanies local, state and federal funds.
RDA Attorney Dave Hollenbeck reminded the RDA that it will be responsible for two feasibility studies for a possible trauma center and academic medical center for Gary.
According to the law passed by the Indiana General Assembly, the studies must be complete by Nov. 1, 2014.