LAPORTE | A financing mechanism is now in place to pay for developing 137 acres of farmland viewed as having the potential to create up to 1,000 new jobs in LaPorte.
The City Council on Monday night approved placing the undeveloped land at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park in a tax increment financing district.
LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo said the existing 150 acres developed at the park is already in a TIF, which captures tax revenue generated by increases in the assessed property value from improvements within the district. That money is reinvested back into the district.
Dollars from the existing TIF, along with money created in the new TIF, will be used for roads, water, sewer and storm drainage in the undeveloped site, Milo said.
Adding to the optimism about job creation are plans to extend rail to the site to help existing and prospective companies with shipping.
Greater LaPorte Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Bert Cook said the rail extension will come into the park from the existing Chicago South Shore Freight line. The line will extend first to American Licorice then later throughout the remainder of the park to serve existing and new businesses.
The park is home to 11 manufacturing firms with room to add roughly a dozen more once the infrastructure is complete, Cook said.
Cook said the cost of the rail extension is being shared by the railroad, Space Center LLC, which owns the land in the expansion and the city's Redevelopment Commission using TIF dollars. Milo said three existing companies have revealed plans to expand as a result of the improvements while talks are being held with more than 20 firms interested in locating to the expanded park.
"The impact of the project is potentially very, very large," Cook said, adding the initial rail extension could be done as early as the fall or at the latest next spring. Construction of the other infrastructure is on a similar time frame.