When Whiting comes up in a conversation, it’s hard not to immediately think about the BP Refinery. Rightfully so; the refinery has been here for 123 years, they own more than half of the city’s two square miles, and they are winding down an investment to modernize their facility that ranks as the largest single economic development project in Indiana history. In short, the BP Refinery is a huge part of Whiting and our heritage, and I’m proud to say that.
Besides these well-known facts, BP’s recent investment at the refinery has also been the catalyst for positive change across our community. Not only has the project employed tens of thousands of region workers over the past several years, but it has stimulated an amazing amount of new commercial, recreational and residential investment in our community.
Together with a strong local redevelopment strategy and vision, the doors have been opening for opportunities to grow and improve our community outside of the refinery walls.
In today’s environment where municipal budgets are under considerable pressure, smart growth is the only sustainable solution for relief. Whiting is extremely lucky to be in position to capture this new growth, largely in part of the investment made by our friends at BP.
Besides our partnership with BP, Whiting has been blessed to be the recipient of a $19 million RDA grant to improve our lakeshore. Receiving this grant was a game-changing event that is allowing us to develop a major attraction to attract people to our fine city.
When coupled with the benefits of the BP investment, a perfect storm of positive events has been created in Whiting.
The RDA funds, along with a local match and several additional grants, will lead to an overall investment of over $50 million to enhance our Lake Michigan shoreline. Much of the project is already complete, but work is expected to continue into 2014.
Components already in use include the Oil City Stadium baseball complex which serves as the home of the Whiting High, Calumet College of St. Joseph and the NWI Oilmen baseball teams. The new Whiting Municipal Sports Complex serves as the home of the Whiting Little League and Calumet College women’s softball team.
By July, a new multi-tier boardwalk and pedestrian trail will be in place along the shores of the lake, connecting the Whiting trail system to Hammond and then up to Chicago.
Revamped and expanded boat launch facilities, improvements at Whihala Beach, as well as a new lakefront restaurant are all in progress. Opportunities for a water taxi service to Chicago, a lakefront hotel and the expansion of water related activities are just a few of the additional amenities also being explored.
I invite everyone to drive up to Whiting to take a look at what’s happening. While you’re here, enjoy a bite to eat at one of our many eateries.
While we still have work to do, I hope you’ll agree that we are on the right track.
Thanks to the BP Refinery, the RDA and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, Whiting has truly been blessed and is positioned to greatly enhance the quality of life of our residents and visitors.