Helping secure federal funding, which allowed Northwest Indiana’s long-awaited rail improvement projects to move forward likely will be among the professional achievements Bill Hanna will be remembered for by Region residents and community leaders.
Hanna, who has served as president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, one of the key agencies that worked on the South Shore West Lake rail extension project and the South Shore double track project, announced Jan. 12 he was resigning from the RDA to take over as executive director of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation. His last day with the RDA is Feb. 12.
A representative for Merrillville-based White Lodging, the company founded by Dean and Barbara White's son, Bruce, said Hanna was expected to start his role with the foundation sometime in February.
“The recently announced federal funding for the South Shore double track project is a tremendous accomplishment for Indiana and the culmination of our efforts to take full advantage of Northwest Indiana’s proximity to Chicago,” Hanna said in a statement. “However, I am most proud of the partnerships between local communities and government entities, all of which are required to successfully complete large initiatives (and) it is my hope the last 10 years demonstrates great things are possible for Northwest Indiana when we work together.”
The RDA also successfully partnered with local, state, and federal officials on more than $1 billion in shoreline development projects including: Wolf Lake Park in Hammond, the East Chicago North Harbor redevelopment as shoreline; Whiting Lake Front Park; Marquette Park in Gary, and Gateway to the Indiana Dunes in Porter County.
The RDA also worked on the relocation of a class 1 railroad and completion of the expansion of the Gary International Airport runway and a Chicago Dash Bus Line to Chicago.
“Bill’s dedication and hard work has led to decades-long dreams in the Region becoming realities,” said Gov. Eric Holcomb. “With game-changing projects like double tracking the South Shore line and the West Lake Corridor extension, Bill’s long-lasting, positive influence on Hoosiers is undeniable.”
Don Fesko, chairman of the RDA board of directors, praised Hanna for making visions a reality.
“We have long understood that Northwest Indiana needs to work together to accomplish important goals and Bill was the catalyst to make that happen,” Fesko said. “He was able to align local, county, state and federal officials and legislators working together to make Northwest Indiana a gateway to Chicago. He has delivered results and his leadership will be missed by the RDA.”
Editor's note: This story was updated on Jan. 13 with additional information.