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GUEST COMMENTARY: Stay the course on NWI train expansion
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GUEST COMMENTARY: Stay the course on NWI train expansion

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Stay the course. The time is now to create a better future.

Over the last several years, bold leaders like U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky have created a vision for Northwest Indiana where people enjoy Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes, thriving downtown areas and a robust economy that capitalizes on our proximity to the third-largest economic engine in the nation, Chicago.

That vision is slowly becoming a reality with new investments in lakefront parks and amenities along the shoreline from Hammond to Michigan City. New and existing industries — including Hoist Liftruck, Modern Forge, BP, Urschel, Pratt, Monosol and many more — are investing millions and even billions, creating thousands of new good-paying jobs.

But the reality is our Region could do more to realize its full growth potential given its phenomenal assets.

Today our leaders can change all that. Our leaders can set a new course for Northwest Indiana by committing to the greatest potential game-changer since the steel mills at the beginning of the last century or Sam Insull’s dream of an electric train connecting people and moving freight to increase commerce and create opportunity.

Our leaders have the power to unleash a tremendous force for positive change. Our leaders have the power to commit to the South Shore West Lake expansion and double-tracking plans to bring $264 million in annual commuter income back to Indiana.

That’s more than a quarter of a billion dollars each and every year. And most of that dough will be spent in communities all over Northwest Indiana.

Just because a train station is not in every town doesn’t mean all won’t share in the new wealth generated.

Economics 101 teaches us that to create value, you must invest. A brighter future is not going to happen by chance. It is up to leaders to create it. It takes investment, collaboration and faith that together we can create a better tomorrow.

This is about creating efficient, cleaner and simpler transportation. This is about increasing the size of the pie for everyone.

This is about attracting and retaining young people.

This is about attracting more than $2 billion in new private investment.

Finally, this is about boldly and wisely staying the course for all of Northwest Indiana.

Don Babcock is director of economic development for NIPSCO. The opinions are the writer's.

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