MICHIGAN CITY —When the South Shore Line Double Track project is completed through Northwest Indiana, it is expected to bring more ridership and more development around train stations, especially in Michigan City.

To add another incentive to such development, One Region recently launched the Northwest Indiana Regional Opportunities Council (NIROC), made up of more than 20 CEOs and executives in Lake, Porter and La Porte counties.

Their mission, according to Leah Konrady, president and CEO of One Region and NIROC: to stimulate an environment attracting people and investments. Members include representatives of several banks, including Horizon Bank, 1st Source Bank, First Financial Bank, Peoples Bank and Centier Bank.

Within the first year, NIROC “prioritized creating a sense of vibrancy through developing multi-family housing and mixed-use development in core urban areas, with a focus on improving quality of place and lifestyle,” said Konrady, a Michigan City native.

NIROC’s member banks also established a loan program, with $25 million targeted for development projects within a quarter mile of transit stations along the proposed Double Track NWI and West Lake Corridor extension, including existing and proposed stations from Hammond to Michigan City.

“The loans made through this program will support the development of quality mixed-use projects consisting of dense housing located nearby transit stations along the South Shore,” Konrady said. “The loans will serve as a means to support and encourage developers as they undertake catalytic projects by providing local financing with the goal of creating density and walkability.”

NIROC seeks to “foster walkable and vibrant communities” as studies have proven that such communities lead to “thriving economies, improved safety and health, and a more sustainable future,” according to Konrady.

She pointed to data showing:

• People of all ages seek to live in walkable communities – “baby boomers to millennials are moving into areas located near transit and with amenities just out the door. Creating this environment will grow our population and retain our talent, especially younger generations,” she said.
• In Nothwest Indiana, living near transit improves access to higher wage jobs in downtown Chicago.
• Dense housing lowers the cost of housing and improves quality of life.
• Walkability reduces crime and increases social connectivity.

To learn more about accessing capital for projects, contact Konrady at lkonrady@oneregionnwi.org or at (219) 933-3300.
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