Lakeshore reinvestment strategy will bring new economic, recreational opportunities to region; winners to accept award at MPC Annual Meeting Luncheon Nov. 29
(CHICAGO)….. For the past century, Northwest Indiana’s Lake Michigan shoreline has been one of the nation’s industrial meccas. As heavy industry in the U.S. has changed, communities in Northwest Indiana and across metropolitan Chicago have had to adapt to remain competitive. The ambitious Marquette Plan: Indiana’s Lakeshore Reinvestment Strategy, which will yield $422 in personal income for every $1 of local funds spent, has earned the 2007 Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning.
Together with U.S. Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), the leaders of East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Portage and Whiting, Ind., pooled $200,000 in local and federal resources to conduct the initial study to address a difficult challenge: attracting new market investments in communities long-defined by industry. The Marquette Plan outlines a strategy to bring jobs and retail opportunities to the beachfront communities of Northwest Indiana, while protecting and enhancing our region’s greatest natural resource, Lake Michigan .
“Our position on Lake Michigan grows more valuable each day, and the Marquette Plan will leverage this tremendous resource to create new jobs, new recreation, and new economic development in Northwest Indiana,” said U.S. Rep. Visclosky. “I applaud the lakefront cities of East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Portage and Whiting for their support of the Marquette Plan.”
For 19 years, MPC’s Burnham Award has recognized forward-thinking plans and projects in the Chicago region. On behalf of the five communities and U.S. Rep. Visclosky, A.J. Monroe, director of community development for Portage, will accept the award, including a $5,000 cash prize underwritten by National City Bank, before an expected crowd of some 1,200 business, government, civic and community leaders at MPC’s Annual Meeting Luncheon, from noon to 1:30 p.m., on Thursday, Nov. 29, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 East Wacker Dr., Chicago.
“The Marquette Plan represents the power of individual communities working together to make the biggest impact,” said Joseph Gregoire, president and CEO, Illinois Banking, National City Bank; co-chair, MPC Housing Committee; and member, MPC Board of Governors. “Individual efforts on the part of each of these communities are commendable, but in partnership and with the support of U.S. Rep. Visclosky and the private sector, these five communities have been able to leverage impressive resources to shape a brighter future for the entire region.”
The Marquette Plan outlines a comprehensive reinvestment strategy encompassing nearly 50 miles of lakefront, including increasing public access to the Lake, and developing a pedestrian and bicycle trail stretching from the Illinois border to Portage.
From the initial study, these lakefront communities, working in conjunction with U.S. Rep. Visclosky’s ability to secure federal funding for Marquette Plan projects, have made progress on lakefront investment. In Portage , new retail developments and a public park have broken ground as a result of the plan. In Hammond , the ecosystem restoration project for Wolf Lake has been completed. Each lakefront city continues to make progress on identifying projects that fit into the vision of the Marquette Plan.
U.S. Rep. Visclosky has championed the Marquette Plan for years, working vigorously to strengthen partnerships and to secure a $20 million federal funding authorization for “projects that will stimulate economic activity and improve the quality of life for everyone.” These federal dollars will help leverage additional local resources and private sector support, including a grant from the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program, with matching funds from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, and funding from neighboring cities LaPorte and Michigan City, Ind., as well as LaPorte County.
Although the congressman has been a vital link, the plan’s success ultimately rests with the residents and local civic, government and business leaders in the five participating communities. Organizations that are integral to bringing the plan to fruition include the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources, as well as the consultant planning team of JJR, SHE, Huff & Huff, JF New, and the Trust for Public Land.
In addition to recognizing this landmark plan, the MPC Annual Meeting Luncheon will feature keynote speaker, the Rt. Hon. Tessa Jowell, a member of the U.K.’s Parliament and minister for the Olympics and London . Jowell was a driving force behind London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and she will share London’s ambitions for the wider benefits and sustainable legacy of hosting the Games.
The Annual Meeting Luncheon is MPC’s primary fundraising event of the year. The event’s Honorary Co-Chairs are Mayor Richard M. Daley, City of Chicago; James Clark, Her Majesty’s Consul General, Chicago; and Patrick G. Ryan, executive chairman, Aon Corporation. In addition to underwriting the Burnham Award, National City Bank is this year’s Presenting Sponsor. Event sponsors include Abbott, Allstate, Aon, BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, and Jones Lang LaSalle.
Founded in 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of business and civic leaders committed to serving the public interest through development, promotion and implementation of sound planning and development policies so all residents have access to opportunity and a good quality of life, the building blocks of a globally competitive greater Chicago region.