Chesterton Tribune



NWI Forum holds panel on its legislative agenda

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The Northwest Indiana Forum (Forum) hosted a reception at the Sand Creek Country Club on May 20 to provide regional business leaders an opportunity to hear from the region’s state legislative delegation on the status of bills sponsored during the 2019 legislative session.

The legislative panel included Sens. Ed Charbonneau and Eddie Melton and State Reps. Earl Harris Jr., Mara Candelaria Reardon, and Ed Soliday. The panel moderator was president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, Spero Batistatos, who also serves as chair of the Forum’s Public Policy Committee.

The panel discussed centered on the following bills:

--HB1405: Taxation of data centers.

--HB1406: Water infrastructure assistance fund and program.

--HB1015: Gaming matters.

--HB1278: IDEM omnibus/permit by rulemaking.

--SB4: Water and wastewater utilities.

The Forum said that it played a significant leadership role in encouraging regional development of the new Redevelopment Tax Credit (SB563), which expanded the current Industrial Recovery Tax Credit (DINO) to provide an incentive to invest in former industrial sites and improve quality of place in the region. This new tax credit also removes some of the building specifications by eliminating the requirements be an “industrial site” and at least 100,000 square feet.

“These bill changes perfectly align with the initiatives set forth in the Ignite the Region -- Northwest Indiana’s Strategy for Economic Transformation,” Forum President and CEO Heather Ennis said.

Meanwhile, the Forum’s 2019 legislative agenda:

--Expand & Protect Economic Development Incentive Tools: The Forum recognizes that economic development tools are critical to the attraction, retention and successful competitive decisions regarding expansion to regional businesses. These tools should continue to be enhanced while allowing consideration for flexible local control.

--Infrastructure Improvements: The Forum recognizes the need to provide long term planning and funding of local and state infrastructure projects as critical components to the success of economic development. Such projects should include, but are not limited to, roads, water, wastewater, fiber optics, ports, airports and brownfield redevelopment.

--Workforce Development: The Forum supports providing public funding for assistance to businesses for training, maintaining and upgrading the skills of new and/or incumbent employees. Programs like Next Level Jobs should be built upon to continue to grow our workforce.

--Environmental: The Forum supports those measures necessary to ensure that environmental decisions are managed in a legal, scientific, timely and clearly understood manner for all stakeholder groups.

--Continued Support for the Regional Cities Initiatives Grant Program: The Forum understands that quality of place is essential to a community’s ability to attract talent and talent is critical to attracting investment. Initiatives such as Regional Cities should continue to be funded to encourage creative thinking about place and regional assets.


Posted 5/30/2019




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