The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority voted Thursday contribute $3.3 million to help close deals for two companies that want to create 285 jobs in the region.

One deal involves a plant expansion in Hammond to add 135 jobs to the company's existing payroll by 2018, according to information passed out at Thursday's regular RDA meeting at the Purdue Technology Center in Merrillville.

The RDA voted 6-0 to dedicate $1.7 million from its deal-closing fund for remodeling and equipment on that project.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is working to give the company tax credits and a training grant, according to RDA CEO Bill Hanna. The name of the company is being kept under wraps because negotiations are ongoing.

The other deal appears to involve MonoSol LLC's plan to build a 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at AmeriPlex at the Port in Portage.

The RDA voted 6-0 to dedicate $1.6 million from its deal closing fund for land acquisition and relocation costs for a Portage project that should create 150 jobs. The project was only discussed at the meeting under the code name "Noresus."

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is negotiating tax credits and other incentives with the company.

If both deals come to fruition, it means the RDA will have made eight deal closing grants totaling $11.75 million since starting the program in 2011, according to figures provided by the RDA. The companies have pledged to employ 1,139 people at their facilities. A total of $507 million will be invested.

"This is pretty exciting stuff," said RDA member and economic development chairman Jeffrey Good."We continue to work with different corporations and the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to bring businesses and jobs to Northwest Indiana."

The grants are made in the form of forgivable loans, which can be reduced in amount if the promised job pledges or investment do not materialize.

The Portage City Council has already voted to grant MonoSol a 10-year graduated property abatement on real estate taxes at an AmeriPlex site. It is granting the company a 10-year, 100 percent abatement on personal property tax, which is generally paid on machinery and equipment.

MonoSol has pledged to create 150 jobs at the new plant. Under the deal approved by the council, MonoSol will pay an abatement fee back to the city equal to 15 percent of the taxes it would have paid or $100,000, whichever is less.

The RDA board of directors also voted to hire Soil and Environmental Engineers Inc. (SME) of Plymouth, Mich., to help manage its $800,000 brownfields assessment and revolving loan fund. The contract with SME will run for three years and the firm will be paid $145,000.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the fund to the RDA in 2011, with the RDA chipping in $100,000. It can be used to set priorities to clean up polluted industrial and other sites.

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