MERRILLVILLE — Sherri Ziller was chosen Thursday to lead the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority as it pursues transformative development along the South Shore Line commuter railroad and its new West Lake Corridor.
Ziller, who has been with the RDA since 2006 and has served as chief operating officer since 2012, succeeds Bill Hanna as the organization's president and chief executive officer.
She thanked the Board of Directors for its trust after its unanimous vote to appoint her.
"I'm very honored and humbled by it," she said. "I'm really looking forward to working with the board, our many partner communities and civic and business leaders throughout Northwest Indiana to continue building a vibrant and prosperous future."
The RDA has partnered with the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District and elected officials in securing the local, state and federal funding for the West Lake Corridor extension and the Double Track modernization project along the existing line. The organization will continue to serve as the local fiscal agent for the projects while also focusing on transit-oriented development around rail stations, through the Transit Development Districts being planned now.
Once the TDDs are established, the growth in property and local income taxes collected within them will go into an account to promote and assist development within the district the revenue is collected. The RDA and host communities are working with consultants to create the districts, and are introducing the rail station areas and the TDD tool, which is unique to Northwest Indiana, to potential developers.
Ziller said she is "excited by the opportunity" to manage the RDA's effort in that work.
"As president and CEO I'll continue to lead the RDA's initiatives to expand commuter rail and surface transportation assets here in Northwest Indiana and to leverage those assets to continue to bring economic development and private investment into our Region," she said.
Hanna left the RDA in February to become executive director of the Dean & Barbara White Family Foundation. Ziller was appointed interim president and CEO at that time, and the board began a search that attracted applications from "multiple qualified candidates expressing a commitment to the mission of the RDA," Vice Chairman Randy Palmateer said in making the motion to appoint Ziller.
Palmateer said Ziller "stood out for her knowledge of the workings of the RDA and her commitment and service to the Authority."
Chairman Don Fesko echoed that sentiment in a statement after the meeting.
“She is uniquely qualified to take on this role given her track record of success with the organization, and we look forward to continuing to work with her to deliver on the RDA’s goals of making Northwest Indiana the leading area for economic growth in Indiana,” he said.
Governor Eric Holcomb expressed his support for Ziller's appointment after Thursday morning's meeting.
"Sherri Ziller has played a pivotal role in the economic evolution of Northwest Indiana," Holcomb said. "Sherri's continued leadership and skillset have been critical in RDA’s growth, and she will be an asset to the vibrant future of Northwest Indiana."
Ziller grew up in Hammond, graduating from Clark High School, and earned a bachelor's degree in political science and master's degree in education from Purdue University Calumet. She serves as a member of the Lake Area United Way Board of Trustees and is a member of the Southshore Leadership Society and Leadership Northwest Indiana. She resides in Crown Point with her husband, Zachary, and son, Robbie.
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