INDIANAPOLIS—On Thursday, Senate Bill 434 authored by State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously. The proposal, which was amended in committee, would promote economic development in Gary and Lake County by establishing the Lake County Convention and Development Fund. The proposal aims to promote economic growth through the creation of a convention center and a new metro station in downtown Gary. It also supports public safety by addressing blight and investing in law enforcement.

“I’m thankful to the Chair and committee for their support in passing this bill out of today’s Senate Appropriations Committee. I also want to thank the various stakeholders who were instrumental in helping me craft this proposal and the members of the community who came down to testify last week. Compared to the Majestic Star casino, which was the worst-performing casino in Indiana, the Hard Rock generated more gaming tax revenue last year than any other casino in the state. This bill will allow us to leverage and build on the success of the Hard Rock Casino to drive economic development in Northwest Indiana, which will help us become even more competitive as Chicago casinos go online.

“Developing the region surrounding the Hard Rock Casino through strategic and meaningful investment has the potential to have a ripple effect throughout the state. The Gary and Northwest Indiana region is in a prime position to become a thriving transportation and economic hub in Indiana, and my SB 434 would support that. By permitting the development of convention venues, tackling community blight and making critical investments in public safety, as well as continuing to support the Double Tracking project, SB 434 will be transformative for Northwest Indiana and the entire state. I  will continue working to move this bill forward this session.”