Make your home page

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has given approval for Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. to increase its natural gas rates in a two-step process beginning in September. The utility says the average residential customer will see an expected overall increase of about $6 per month.

NIPSCO initially submitted its request for the rate increase in September 2021. The utility said at the time the additional revenue would be used to make infrastructure improvements, including replacing older gas lines.

“Customers expect service that is dependable and rates at the lowest cost possible,” NIPSCO President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Hooper said in written remarks. “This balanced outcome demonstrates a positive path toward continued investments in essential resources that will support safe operations, upgrading aging infrastructure and enhancing our customers’ experience.”

The first step in the rate increase will take place September 1, with the second step occurring in March 2023.

NIPSCO says the change marks a 10% increase, which is lower than the originally proposed 17%. The change also reduces the customer charge from the originally proposed $24.50 to $16.33.

The utility says the overall change is expected to generate an additional $71.8 million in revenue annually.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Indianapolis-based ProTeam Tactical Performance is preparing to open its first location outside of central Indiana. The company, which helps first responders recover from and prevent injuries in a manner similar to collegiate and professional athletes, will bring its model to Merrillville beginning May 23.

ProTeam Tactical Performance was founded by former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Sorgi and former St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Joey Vandever.

The company says the new, 6,000-square-foot facility will provide athletic-minded rehab solutions and performance services to firefighters, police officers and other tactical professionals.

“We’ve been able to help many first responders throughout Central Indiana and are incredibly excited about what this new space will let us accomplish when it comes to improving the quality of life for first responders in Northern Indiana,” Vandever said in written remarks.. “These professionals signed up to serve our community. They want to be active and out there instead of on the sidelines recovering. They choose to put their lives on the line for us. It’s an honor to work alongside them and give these heroes the quality of care they deserve.” 

The northwest Indiana facility, located at 8279 Wright St in Merrillville, is ProTeam Tactical’s fifth location in Indiana.

Earlier this month, ProTeam Tactical unveiled its behavioral health platform, SHIELD. The platform allows users to self-evaluate depression, anxiety, PTSD, stress and other issues through questionnaires and then provides access to related resources.

MERRILLVILLE – American Banker magazine has released its annual ranking of Best Banks to Work For and three Indiana institutions are included on the 2021 list. The trade publication says the results are based on employee surveys, reviews of employee benefits and policies and an examination of the bank’s hiring and retention strategies.

The list includes the top 90 banks, regardless of size and assets.

Merrillville-based Centier Bank is ranked number two in the nation, followed by Fishers-based First Internet Bank at No. 24, and Michigan City-based Horizon Bank is ranked No. 90.

In addition to employee surveys, the publication evaluates a company’s volunteering and charitable contributions, as well as leadership philosophy. This year, the publication included bank’s response to the pandemic.

This is how American Banker described Centier’s response:

“The bank offered paid time off for employees who took coronavirus tests, got vaccinated or had to quarantine, for example. And it let employees carry over a week of unused time off into 2021. Employees whose spouses lost jobs benefited from Centier’s C.A.R.E. Program, which paid out $49,000 in 2020,” the publication stated.

American Banker says competition for talent has been intense, and worker shortages are expected to persist in years to come as Baby Boomers retire. The chief executives at the best banks emphasized the importance of making employees feel valued.

“When our associates feel valued, they are able to show up to work as their best selves and to help assist and guide our clients,” said Chrisanne Christ, senior partner in human resources at Centier. “There’s nothing quite like that personal relationship with your banker, and that’s what our clients value.”

The publication noted how First Internet bank has a basketball hoop in the parking lot which allows employees to build camaraderie and teamwork through a game of hoops.

“I’m proud that First Internet Bank has always been a model for workplace culture. We believe in the power of personal connections,” said President and CEO David Becker.

Horizon Bank was highlighted for the establishment of affinity resource groups that created a “welcoming” for employees to share experiences and cultivate better understanding of each other.

“We firmly believe that only by leveraging unique talents and learning from differing perspectives will we continue to grow and succeed as a company,” said Chair and CEO Craig Dwight.

Click here to see the full list

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A northern Indiana utility has submitted a request with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to raise its base natural gas rates, which if approved, will increase customer bills. Northern Indiana Public Service Co., says the additional revenue would be used to make infrastructure improvements, including replacing older gas lines.

NIPSCO, a subsidiary of Merrillville-based NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) ,says an average residential customer, using 70 therms per month, would see a monthly increase of $9.00 per month, or about 17%.

The company says if the rate hike is approved by the IURC, the two-phase increase would go into effect next September.

“Maintaining a safe system and ensuring the safety of our customers and communities is ingrained in all facets of the work we do now, and it will continue to drive how we operate in the future,” said Mike Hooper, NIPSCO president and chief operating officer. “This request will allow for essential resources and investments to sustain the integrity of our infrastructure while balancing costs and improvements to better serve our customers.”

NIPSCO says its natural gas base rates were most recently approved in 2018. The utility says since then it has invested approximately $885 million in system upgrades and technology improvements.

Click here to learn more about NIPSCO’s rate hike request.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An IT security provider in northwest Indiana is under new ownership. Think Tank NTG Inc., headquartered in Merrillville, has been acquired by Illinois-based Proven IT, though financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

Proven IT says the acquisition will allow it to continue expansion into the region and work with a wider range of organizations in the Midwest. Jim Gagan, former president of Think Tank, says the deal will provide additional technology solutions for customers.

“My organization and I are extremely excited to partner with Proven IT to lead additional growth in Northwest Indiana,” Gagan said in a news release. “We initially approached Proven IT about this partnership because we believed that Proven and Think Tank, were well-aligned and that the expansion of services would be a true benefit to our clients.”

The acquisition includes the office building that houses Think Tank. Proven IT says it plans to staff as many as 75 employees at the location, though it was not clear how many of those will be new workers.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Gov. Eric Holcomb will Friday join executives from Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ) to break ground on the company’s $50 million production and warehouse facility in Merrillville. The Michigan-based pizza chain says the 110,000-square-foot facility at the Ameriplex at the Crossroads business park will create up to 140 jobs by the end of 2023.

Plans for the facility were first announced in May. Domino’s said at the time the supply chain center will serve Domino’s locations throughout Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The governor will be joined by other local officials for the groundbreaking ceremony, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. local time. Construction on the facility is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Pennsylvania-based Quality Pasta Co. LLC says it will invest more than $13 million to establish a production facility in Merrillville. The company, which produces pasta dinners and side dishes, says the project will also create up to 70 jobs by the end of 2024.

The Merrillville plant will be the company’s second production facility in the U.S. Quality Pasta says the expansion will allow it to increase capacity, add new customers, and “continue to bring innovation to the retail and consumer package goods market.”

“We are proud to embark on this expansion to bring new capacity to the market and especially proud to do this after more than a year operating in a pandemic,” Paul DeStefano, president of Quality Pasta, said in a news release. “The demand for our products and services remains strong, and we will continue to meet the needs of our customers with the highest quality, most innovative products available. The new plant and team in Merrillville will be a great compliment to our Charleroi, Pennsylvania, facility and team to help deliver more great products to the market.”

The company is using the investment to lease and upgrade a nearly 90,000-square-foot facility in Merrillville. The location is expected to be fully operational this fall.

Quality Pasta plans to begin hiring this month for a variety of positions, including mechanical, operations, quality, warehouse, and office administration. The company plans to employ up to 50 workers within the first year.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Quality Pasta up to $525,000 in conditional tax credits, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. Additional incentives have been approved by the town of Merrillville.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A national pizza chain has announced plans to establish a regional pizza dough production and warehouse facility in Lake County. Domino’s Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ) says it will invest more than $50 million to build and equip the 110,000-square-foot facility at the Ameriplex at the Crossroads business park in Merrillville and create up to 140 jobs by the end of 2023.

The company says the new supply chain center will service Domino’s stores throughout Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

“Domino’s is a global brand that could locate anywhere, and we are happy they are pursuing Merrillville, a true reflection of our friendly business climate” Merrillville Town Council President Rick Bella said in a news release. “The company knows Merrillville is committed to their strategic growth and creating greater opportunities for local and area residents.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says Domino’s is the largest pizza company in the world based on retail sales. The company has nearly 18,000 stores and more than 90 markets.

Construction on the facility is expected to begin later this year and be complete by the end of 2022. The company says it expects to begin hiring for full-time warehouse, production, and Class A and Class B CDL driver positions next year.

The IEDC has offered Domino’s up to $2.1 million in conditional tax credits and training grants, which the company will not be eligible to claim until Hoosier workers are hired for the new jobs. The town of Merrillville will consider additional incentives next month.

GIBSON CO., Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Co. LLC has signed a Build Transfer Agreement with the developer of a 200-megawatt solar farm in Gibson County.

The Elliott Solar project is one of several being undertaken by Capital Dynamics’ Clean Energy Infrastructure business in Indiana.

Construction is expected to begin in summer 2022 and the solar plant would become operational the following summer.

Under terms of the agreement, Capital Dynamics will construct the project, and NIPSCO will enter into a joint venture once construction is complete.

CEI and NIPSCO, which is a subsidiary of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), are also partnering on a second solar project in Gibson County. In December, the utility announced it had signed a long-term agreement to purchase power from the 280-megawatt Gibson Solar Farm.

“Capital Dynamics is proud to further expand our presence in Indiana and contribute to the state’s ongoing energy transition,” said John Breckenridge, head of Clean Energy Infrastructure at Capital Dynamics. “We applaud NIPSCO for its commitment to providing customers with sustainable energy solutions.”

NIPSCO says it plans to be coal-free by 2028 by adding power generated from solar and wind farms to its existing portfolio of natural gas and hydroelectric generation.

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation in Merrillville has outlined its strategic priorities now that Bill Hanna has begun his tenure as executive director. Hanna joined the foundation after 10 years leading the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

The foundation says Hanna will support its mission to “contribute to sustainable economic and social wellbeing of Northwest Indiana and the surrounding area. 

“Bill is known for cultivating legacy projects that support the health, wellness and economic sustainability of the Region,” Foundation Trustee Bruce White said in a news release. “He’s a catalyst for progress and good things, and will be tasked with supporting my parents’ – and the entire White Family’s – vision, while maximizing the long-term investments of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation.” 

The foundation says it will invest in projects throughout the region that align with its new strategic priorities. They include economic development investments to boost quality of life, self-sustainable projects that do not require consistent, ongoing funding from the foundation, projects that create a benefit for the entire community, and projects that include matching gifts to multiply the impact on the community.

The foundation says it has invested more than $46 million over the past five years for a variety of projects, including most recently $10 million for the new Merrillville community Center and more than $1 million in COVID-19 recovery efforts.