- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - A team of economic development pros from northwest Indiana pitched the region to a Chicago rail summit as a less expensive option for businesses looking to locate in the Chicago area.

They made the argument to about 20 railroad industry officials and developers Thursday at “The Rail Summit, the Supply Chain” event at the Union League Club in Chicago, The (Munster) Times (https://bit.ly/1blIlMH ) reported. The move comes after the governors of Indiana and Illinois have increased efforts to lure jobs from one another’s states.

“When companies look at our area, they are surprised at the significant ability to operate at a lower cost in Northwest Indiana as compared to other places in the Chicago area,” said Rex Richards, CEO of Valparaiso Economic Development Corp.

Richards stressed that Indiana is a favorable tax climate, where the corporate income tax rate will drop to 6.5 percent this year, and the individual take income tax rate will fall to just over 3.2 percent by 2017. The state also has capped property taxes and lower workers compensation costs compared to neighboring Illinois, he said.

Richards pointed out that several industrial parks in northwest Indiana are located near railroads or airports, making it convenient for companies to quickly bring customers and products in and out.

Areas like Park 30 East, a 400-acre site zoned for development on the southeast side of Valparaiso, is served by two fright railroad, Richards said. The site, and numerous others like it, also is close to Porter County Regional Airport, he said.

Karen Lauerman, CEO of the Lake County Indiana Economic Alliance, highlighted recent developments in her county, such as fertilizer producer Potash Corp.’s significant presence at Indiana Harbor Belt Railway’s Gibson Yard in Hammond, and Canadian National Railway’s expansion at Kirk Yard in Gary.

Adam Karras of real estate firm Commercial In-Sites said told the railroad officials that his company is working on industrial development in East Chicago, where the unique requirements of steel and other manufacturing companies can be fulfilled, he said.

“In our experience, Mayor Copeland has been extremely proactive in helping us in what we are looking to do,” Karras said.

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Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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