One question we hear about expanding commuter rail to Chicago is, why depend on Chicago for our jobs? Why not focus on creating good-paying jobs right here in Northwest Indiana? The answer is that expanding rail will not only improve access to jobs in Chicago, but also lay the foundation for business growth in communities throughout Lake and Porter counties as well.
In 2013, there were 677 business investment project in the Chicago metro area (including Lake and Porter counties in Indiana) according to World Business Chicago's annual market profile. These projects represented more than 38,000 jobs and $6 billion in private investment. But of those 677 investments, Lake and Porter counties received a mere 16, while the suburban collar counties around Chicago in Illinois collected 265. You can see the full breakdown here.
Overlaid on a map of rail lines in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the pattern becomes clear: businesses are choosing to invest in the parts of the Chicago market where the rail, and the population, are strong. Lacking that same transit connection, Northwest Indiana hasn't been able to amass the same kind workforce depth. That means the number of companies that would consider relocating here is limited, despite our lower taxes and lower costs of living.
What this tells us is that all rungs of the development ladder must be strong when competing in a market like Chicago. In order to compete. Increased commuter access that will make us a true part of the third-largest economy in our nation, along with our other advantages, constitutes the way forward for the region. This is the strategy for new jobs, new residents and new investment right here that will turn Northwest Indiana in an established direction of success.