KEY QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS) ABOUT THE NORTHWEST INDIANA REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
- Why did the General Assembly and Governor Daniels agree to create the RDA and what is its purpose?
Most would probably agree that it was needed because northwest Indiana (of which Porter County is an irrevocable part) has been in economic decline and needed a mechanism to help address major regional needs that were beyond the capability of any single unit of government.
- How is the RDA funded?
The RDA has no taxing powers. It is a unique partnership between state and local government. No other region has such a partnership. The state has agreed to invest $120 Million over a ten year period. The cities of East Chicago, Gary and Hammond and Lake County each invest $3.5 Million a year from casino revenue. Porter County has no casino, so its $3.5 million a year comes from a share of a .25% CEDIT lax levy which also provides Homestead Tax Credits to reduce property taxes on owner-occupied homes in Porter County
- What are RDA funds used for?
The Legislature delineated four specific areas:
In addition, the statute allows the RDA to also assist with other regional economic development efforts.
- Expansion of the Gary Chicago Airport
- Extension of the South Shore commuter service
- Redevelopment of the Lake Michigan shoreline
- Regional Bus Authority
- Who decides what projects are to be funded?
The RDA Board of Directors comprised of seven members named by elected bodies or officials. Five are named by the cities and counties that provide funding and two are appointed by the Governor. They are all unpaid volunteers.
- Does the RDA originate projects?
No, the RDA partners with local government and other public entities, responding to their initiatives and helping them to assure that projects are conceived and carried out efficiently and effectively.
- What has the RDA accomplished thus far?
The RDA has accomplished some heavy lifting in advancing major initiatives step by step. Some progress is more visible than other pieces that may in fact require more work and represent substantial progress on long-term initiatives. The RDA has been a catalyst for regional cooperation and the actual facilitator of a true regional approach to prioritizing what needs to be done to improve our economy and quality of life.
As of the end of 2012, the RDA had invested or committed to investing $211 million. This investment had attracted an additional $450 million in federal, state, local and private funding funding. By 2015, RDA-funded projects are projected to generate a cumulative total of $1.1 billion in economic output, and will support an estimated 4,000 jobs by 2025. RDA projects include:
- The Portage lakefront Park (Marquette Plan).
- Major utility relocation at the Gary airport as part of the runway extension project, as well as, crucial property acquisitions required to expand the airports capabilities.
- Developed plans and funded Hammond lake shore redevelopment project, along with similar plans for Whiting that include important connecting development pieces (Marquette Plan).
- Funded the Chicago Dash commuter bus from Valparaiso to Chicago and major redevelopment in the area of the bus depot.
- Invested in a much needed upgrade of commuter cars for NICTD that benefits riders from both Lake and Porter counties.
- What has been the return on investment made by local government thus far?
Click here to see our 2012 Return on Investment Analysis.
- Why hasn’t more been accomplished?
The four priority areas the Legislature prescribed for the RDA are complex and require extensive collaboration with many entities to get them ready for funding. Some of them have been languishing for decades. The RDA is expediting progress wherever practical, but in the final analysis, the agency or unit of government responsible for the project has major responsibility for the pace of progress.
- How should the success of the RDA be measured?
The RDA is intended to help cause major transformational change to occur in northwest Indiana. Such changes take time, persistence, and patience. Every investment the RDA makes should help bring new jobs, improve the environment, and/or encourage new private investment that helps build a stronger property tax base and reduce property taxes for others.
- Did Porter and Lake Counties receive less Major Moves funding from the Toll Road lease than other Toll Road counties?
Not really. Each of the seven Toll Road counties was allocated $40 million. To help provide initial funding for the RDA. $15 million from Porter County's allocation and 25 million from Lake County's distribution were deposited with the RDA. However the State of Indiana agreed to provide $10 million from funds generated by the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road each year for a ten year period. Porter and Lake Counties share in those funds, so they benefitted far more from the lease proceeds than any other county
Updated November 18, 2013