The Portage-based Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission was selected to host a fellow in the Economic Recovery Corps Fellowship program.
NIRPC will host Celena Green, who is one of 65 fellows placed nationwide as part of the program.
The Economic Recovery Corps program aims to build capacity in economically distressed areas. The program also works to cultivate economic development leaders.
“This is a unique opportunity to address an economic development need in Lake County that will spur the redevelopment of brownfield sites and assist in new business attraction along the new quantum computing fiber corridor,” said Ty Warner, NIRPC’s executive director, in a press release.
The fellowship program launched in 2023 through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. It is led by the International Economic Development Council and supported by national economic development organizations.
“ERC is more than a fellowship,” said Nathan Ohle, president and CEO of the council. “It is a testament to the power of collaboration and strategic partnerships deeply needed to produce lasting social and economic impact.”
Each of the 65 projects across the country receives a fellow who helps coordinate local efforts with the host organization. NIRPC partnered with the Northwest Indiana Forum to develop a project involving the quantum computing fiber corridor from Chicago to South Bend.
The corridor runs through Gary, Lake Station, East Chicago and Hammond, areas with many underutilized and vacant brownfield sites. Redeveloping these sites for new businesses near the quantum computing fiber corridor could help invigorate these communities, officials said.
“Experience working with brownfields has shown that sites often have barriers to redevelopment beyond the environmental concerns,” said Kathy Luther, NIRPC director of environmental programs. “Our fellow will be investigating multiple factors for each site.”
Green will live and work in Northwest Indiana. She previously spent three years in South Bend exploring the possibilities for brownfield redevelopment. Green is the founder of FoundRE, a company that helps property owners and municipalities use vacant or underutilized commercial spaces.
“I am happy to return to Indiana to continue working with the business community and to activate vacant land for economic growth,” Green said.
NIRPC is a council of Northwest Indiana governments that focuses on areas of regional concern. It serves Lake, Porter and La Porte counties. The commission helps plan for transportation, the environment and economic development.