Consultants working on an economic resilience plan for northwest Indiana reported on their progress at the latest meeting of the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
The U.S. Department of Commerce designated the NIRPC Economic Development District in late 2019, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic created a massive economic downturn and forced some businesses to shut down completely.
NIRPC contracted last year with TIP Strategies, of Austin, Texas, to formulate plans to help businesses weather the next big economic upheaval resulting from a pandemic or natural disaster, by assuming it is likely to occur.
TIP Strategies also worked on the Northwest Indiana Forum’s Ignite the Region project in 2018.
He has conducted a survey of business owners on the challenges they expect in the future and will soon meet with some of the region’s top employers.
At the end of July, NIRPC members were informed that TIP Strategies would be formulating strategies to help deal with the next crisis.
Also at Thursday’s NIRPC meeting, local officials were briefed on plans to deal locally with the effects of climate change.
Kathy Luther, NIRPC’s director of environmental programs, said the climate action planning task force is being formed. It will develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
The plan would be based on the greenhouse gas emissions inventory that the NIRPC recently created with help from ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA and the Indiana University Environmental Resource Institute.
The first meeting of the working group is scheduled for May 5.
Also on Thursday, the NIRPC approved a funding plan to improve railroad crossing safety systems in several northwestern Indiana communities — three in Hammond and LaPorte, two in the town of Porter and one in Chesterton — for nearly $4.9 million, with less than $500,000 of that from local funds.
Tim Zorn is a freelance journalist for the Post-Tribune.