On Tuesday, the Interim Study Committee on Commerce and Economic Development voted 8-1 to approve economic development plans in Gary brought forth by State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) in the 2018 legislative session. Members of the committee visited Gary this summer and witnessed the range of opportunities available to expand the city’s economy.

The discussion in this study committee represents just the first step in what could be transformative change within the City of Gary. The report from the intermodal planning firm Vickerman and Associates demonstrates the real opportunities that exist for significant economic development along the Buffington Harbor area.  As Mr. Vickerman described, rail freight movements are expected to climb steadily in the coming years, which will cause further problems of congestion and increase costs for the rail companies. Gary is uniquely situated to serve as an eastern alternative intermodal freight hub for rail companies, allowing them to move the products faster and cheaper.

Moving the casino out of the Buffington Harbor area would provide additional access to Lake Michigan for the purposes of port cargo traffic and would result in increased gaming revenue for the state due to the potential proximity to a greater population with a higher per capita income. Ultimately, the job opportunities within construction, warehousing, transportation and other logistical work that could result from this development plan would be transformational for Hoosiers.

Concerns do exist from neighboring facilities and municipalities, but Senator Melton pledged to work with all interested parties going forward so that everyone can benefit from these opportunities. It is encouraging to see the committee’s support in moving forward with this important discussion. Not only will this be rewarding for Gary, but it is clear that these two projects will also greatly benefit the entire region and state.