MICHIGAN CITY  — The stereotypical Realtor's chant of "location, location, location" being the three most important factors in finding a home is no more true than here.

The city's location makes the difference and gives it an edge.

"The first thing is our lakefront, Lake Michigan," Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer said about what makes his city special. "The cherry on the top now is that we are adjacent to the only national park in Indiana."

Meer said the city has been investing in itself.

"Over the last seven years we have had a more than $1 billion investment," Meer said. "Some of it's not so glamorous."

Meer said the city has spent "10s of millions of dollars" on infrastructure, including $10 million last year on sanitary sewers to prevent overflows and $2.3 million in lead assessment and abatement.

In a way, the city is setting itself up for the future.

"You only have so much money to invest. It is a balance of investments," Meer said. "We've been investing in workforce development and providing job opportunities. Unemployment is at the lowest it's been in a while."

While the city was founded on manufacturing and industry and while they still want those jobs, Meer said, they've had to adapt.

Clarence Hulse , executive director of the Economic Development Corp. of Michigan City, said many of the strides have been made and will continue to be made  thanks to partnership between his group, city government and others.

Hulse said in 2018, there were 13 new, expansion or relocation projects completed or in process which would bring a projected 306 jobs. Investment topped $305 million last year.

Both Hulse and Meer pointed to the opening of the $243 million Franciscan Health Hospital, which is helping attract other medical-related businesses to Michigan City, as the biggest development.

Blue Chip Casino launched a $12 million project to expand its convention center.

Other projects either completed or in the works include a $7.2 million investment in a new Holiday Inn Express; $3 million in the BIG Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Car Wash; $.25 million in the golden Sands Motel, $1 million in a data center and $30 million investment in the expansion of the GAF manufacturing facility.

Meer said the 2019 focus will be continuing to address the city's aging housing stock and abandoned houses. 

"We are working to have them demolished or rehabilitated," Meer said, adding their goal is to bring in more middle-class to higher-end housing to the city.

Meer said he believes the demand will increase for more and better housing when the South Shore Line double tracking project is completed, making it a quicker trip from Northwest Indiana to Chicago. He said he sees more people moving his city's way to take advantage of the quality of life amenities the city has to offer.

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