We are lucky to have the strong industrial base in Northwest Indiana. Major projects like the expansion of BP's Whiting Refinery kept a lot of our men and women working in 2011, while the commercial market was still a lot slower than we would like to see.
There are bright spots evident this year, too.
We have blast furnace work at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago and continuing work at the new coke plant at U.S. Steel. So the steel mills will be putting a lot of our region's construction tradespeople to work this year also.
NIPSCO is in the midst of a major pollution control project at the Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield that is creating many local jobs.
We are also looking to put more people at BP over the next two years at the Whiting Refinery expansion continues. That project will allow the refinery to process additional crude oil from Canadian oil sands.
Demolition of the old Cline Avenue bridge will happen this year, too. That work will generate jobs in the construction sector.
On the commercial end, just to name a few:
• Lake Central School Corp. work now that the referendum has passed to begin replacing most of the existing Lake Central High School.
• Construction of the Potash Corp. facility in Hammond.
• Completion of Porter Health System's new hospital at Ind. 49 and U.S. 6.
• The start of construction for Gary/Chicago International Airport's runway expansion project.
• Conversion of the old Tolleston High School in Gary to a Boys & Girls Club.
Some of our trades, like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, are still looking at solar and wind turbine work using the training facility in Merrillville and our donated solar panel project at Merrillville Town Hall as a showcase for Green and LEED standards.
It has been incorporated in the apprenticeship curriculum, and our apprentices get the hands-on training and experience at the school and the project at Merrillville Town Hall.
Randy Palmateer is business manager of the Northwestern Indiana Building & Construction Trades Council. The opinions expressed in this column are the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.