Staff | Pal-Item

Passengers emerge from a South Shore train at South Bend Regional Airport.
Passengers emerge from a South Shore train at South Bend Regional Airport.

It is telling that ensuring the continued state support of the Regional Development Association is the top priority of the community leaders who attended the One Region retreat Oct. 23.

It is through the RDA that the work of transforming the region has begun. The state must ensure this transformation continues by funding the RDA adequately. And by that we mean at least $10 million a year — more, if necessary, to make the South Shore extension happen.

“Without that state funding, we lose leverage and lose a partner in this process,” said RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna. We would lose momentum, too.

The state’s $10 million share is over one-third of the RDA’s budget.

In its first nine years, the RDA has leveraged state and local funds to bring new businesses to the area, redevelop portions of the Lake Michigan shoreline for improved public access, expand the runway at Gary/Chicago International Airport, purchase new rolling stock for passengers’ use on the South Shore Line and more. Thousands of jobs have been generated in the process.

The next big push is expanding South Shore service along the West Lake Corridor. That’s a project that will improve access to high-paying jobs in Chicago and, if done right, will bring residents and jobs to Northwest Indiana. Read more