INDIANAPOLIS — The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority may be permitted to support a "destination" economic development project, if someday one is proposed for the Region.
On Tuesday, the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee rewrote House Bill 1290 to empower the RDA to participate in funding a major project, subject to approval by the Indiana Finance Authority and the State Budget Committee.
Bill Hanna, RDA president and CEO, said no specific project currently is planned, but Region leaders often suggest ideas that could bring a significant number of visitors and associated development — such as a professional sports stadium, major museum or convention center.
"The project has to be extremely substantial for us to get involved. ... It would have to be a very proven concept," Hanna said. "But being so close to Chicago you want to be positioned if something like that appears."
The RDA's role was limited by the General Assembly in 2015 to supporting the Gary/Chicago International Airport expansion, Region rail and bus transit, shoreline and intermodal shipping projects and general economic development in Lake and Porter counties.
"The statutes that were passed last year were more restrictive, so this is one area we thought we better make sure there's clarity that we can do those kinds of projects," Hanna said.
The measure, which goes to the full Senate, also makes technical changes to when the RDA receives its share of riverboat casino admission tax revenue from the state on behalf of Hammond, East Chicago, Gary and Lake County.
The underlying legislation aims to minimize the impact of a change in how "big box" retail stores are assessed for property tax purposes to prevent significant reductions in local government revenue.