Chesterton Tribune



Ton looks to improve Downtown thru CEDC

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The newly revitalized Chesterton Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) under its president, Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, is looking to hit the ground running.

The CEDC’s main brief is to administer the facade loan program, which will make available to business owners loans of up to $5,000. Those loans will carry an interest rate of 2 percent and must be re-paid in full after five years, with two installments per year.

But Ton is also hoping to use the CEDC as a bully pulpit and unofficial clearing house for all manner of Downtown Business District initiatives, and at the Town Council’s meeting Monday night Ton read a prepared statement in which he listed four specific objectives for the CEDC and its municipal and local partners.

The objectives:

* Establish four railroad quiet-zones, at four Norfolk Southern grade-crossings--South Calumet Road, North Fourth Street, North Eighth Street, and North 15th Street--to improve quality of life in Chesterton, to encourage the growth of businesses in the Downtown, and to enhance visitors’ enjoyment of Thomas Centennial Park.

* Alleviate unemployment, blight, and deterioration in the Downtown, by means of making the facade improvement loans available to business owners.

* In partnership with the Redevelopment Commission, erect directional and other signage in eligible tax increment financing districts to promote the Downtown Business District to out-of-town visitors.

* And network with the local business community, by strengthening relationships with the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, the Duneland Business Initiative Group, and the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission, among others. In particular, to build an “idea bank” for revitalization.

Seated on the CEDC are Ton; Vice-president (and Town Engineer) Mark O’Dell; Secretary (and Town Manager Bernie Doyle); Treasurer (and Clerk-Treasurer) Stephanie Kuziela; and Richard Riley, owner of Riley’s Railhouse.

The CEDC is currently re-working the guidelines of the facade loan program, which was established in 1987 with a grant awarded to the town by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Since its establishment, the program has loaned a total of $522,321.21 to Chesterton businesses for facade improvements. The program was frozen, however, in 2014, due to outdated guidelines and application forms.

Although the CEDC is not yet ready to begin accepting applications, Kuziela told the Chesterton Tribune that she’s hopeful the program will be back online soon.



Posted 8/29/2017




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