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One Region recently launched the Northwest Indiana Regional Opportunities Council (NIROC), a council of over 20 CEOs and executives in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, whose mission is to stimulate an environment attracting people and investments. Members include several banks: Horizon Bank, 1st Source Bank, First Financial Bank, Peoples Bank, and Centier Bank. Within the first year, NIROC prioritized creating a sense of vibrancy through developing multi-family housing and mixed-use development in core urban areas, with a focus on improving quality of place and lifestyle.

NIROC’s member banks rallied together to establish a new loan program, with $25 million targeted for development projects within a quarter mile of transit stations along the proposed Double Track and West Lake extension, including existing and proposed stations from Hammond to Michigan City.

The loans made through this program will support the development of quality mixed-use projects consisting of dense housing located nearby transit stations of the South Shore Rail Line. The loans will serve as a means to support and encourage developers as they undertake catalytic projects by providing local financing with the goal of creating density and walkability.

NIROC seeks to foster walkable and vibrant communities as studies have proven that such communities lead to thriving economies, improved safety and health, and a more sustainable future. Here’s what we know:

  • People of all ages seek to live in walkable communities – baby boomers to millennials are moving into areas located near transit and with amenities just out the door. Creating this environment will grow our population and retain our talent, especially younger generations.
  • In our region, living near transit, improves access to the higher wage jobs in downtown Chicago.
  • Dense housing lowers the cost of housing and therefore improves quality of life.
  • Walkability reduces crime and increases social connectivity.

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