revitalized Chesterton Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) under its
president, Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, is looking to hit the ground
The CEDC’s main
brief is to administer the facade loan program, which will make available to
business owners loans of up to $5,000. Those loans will carry an interest
rate of 2 percent and must be re-paid in full after five years, with two
installments per year.
But Ton is also
hoping to use the CEDC as a bully pulpit and unofficial clearing house for
all manner of Downtown Business District initiatives, and at the Town
Council’s meeting Monday night Ton read a prepared statement in which he
listed four specific objectives for the CEDC and its municipal and local
* Establish four
railroad quiet-zones, at four Norfolk Southern grade-crossings--South
Calumet Road, North Fourth Street, North Eighth Street, and North 15th
Street--to improve quality of life in Chesterton, to encourage the growth of
businesses in the Downtown, and to enhance visitors’ enjoyment of Thomas
unemployment, blight, and deterioration in the Downtown, by means of making
the facade improvement loans available to business owners.
* In partnership
with the Redevelopment Commission, erect directional and other signage in
eligible tax increment financing districts to promote the Downtown Business
District to out-of-town visitors.
* And network with
the local business community, by strengthening relationships with the
Duneland Chamber of Commerce, the Duneland Business Initiative Group, and
the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission, among
others. In particular, to build an “idea bank” for revitalization.
Seated on the CEDC
are Ton; Vice-president (and Town Engineer) Mark O’Dell; Secretary (and Town
Manager Bernie Doyle); Treasurer (and Clerk-Treasurer) Stephanie Kuziela;
and Richard Riley, owner of Riley’s Railhouse.
The CEDC is
currently re-working the guidelines of the facade loan program, which was
established in 1987 with a grant awarded to the town by the Office of
Community and Rural Affairs. Since its establishment, the program has loaned
a total of $522,321.21 to Chesterton businesses for facade improvements. The
program was frozen, however, in 2014, due to outdated guidelines and
Although the CEDC
is not yet ready to begin accepting applications, Kuziela told the
Chesterton Tribune that she’s hopeful the program will be back online