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MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Governor Eric Holcomb says the $649 million South Shore Double Track project will be a “ginormous magnet” for growth in northwest Indiana. Federal, state and local officials broke ground this morning on the project, which will add 18 miles of new track on the South Shore Line between Michigan City and Gary. The additional track is expected to reduce travel time between Michigan City and Millennium Park in Chicago by 33 minutes.

Speaking with reporters after the groundbreaking, Holcomb said the project will be a boon for local governments in the region.

“It allows local officials all along this corridor to plan for that growth and gives them the ability to not just define, but usher in their own destiny,” said Holcomb. “The excitement that this has generated because it’s a reality now – it’s just not a blueprint or a lofty goal – there is skin in the game [at the] local, state and federal levels all to see this come to not just fruition but into reality.”

In addition to the new track, the project will add four bridges and eight new platforms, a new overhead contact system, and more than 1,400 parking spaces, as well as removing street-running tracks and eliminating 20 at-grade crossings.

The project is being funded by $197 million in federal funding from the Federal Transit Administration and the American Rescue Program. The remaining funds include $340 million in state funding, $80 million in local funding, and up to $30 million from the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which manages the South Shore Line.

“Double tracking the South Shore Line unlocks the true potential of this railroad and opens up vastly improved commuter rail service from northwest Indiana to Chicago and back,” Michael Noland, president of the South Shore Line, said in written remarks. “Reliability, more frequent service options, reduced time to market and safety enhancements are vital to the long-term success and will result in tremendous economic growth.”

Governor Holcomb’s office says the project, combined with the West Lake Corridor extension of the South Shore Line, is project to generate some $2.7 billion in private investment to northwest Indiana, and create more than 6,000 jobs and $5 billion in economic impact by 2048.

The West Lake extension is a $945 million project that will extend the South Shore Line south from Hammond to Dyer. Work on the project is underway and expected to be complete by 2025.

Holcomb calls the effort “Hoosier history being made right before our very eyes.”

“For the northwest quadrant of our state to be located next to the third-largest economy in our country and to be craving more talent and new Hoosiers, this is the biggest project we’ve seen in more than my generation,” Holcomb said. “To add to that equation, the investments that we’re making in broadband internet, in trails, in roads, in airports and in our water ports, all those pieces of the puzzle snap together to make us no longer just the Crossroads America; we’re truly the epicenter of where commerce and residential business can not just meet expectations but exceed them.”

Construction on the Double Track project is expected to be complete in early 2024 with passenger serve starting later that year. Once operational, the service will operate every 16 minutes during weekday peak periods and approximately every 75 minutes during weekday off-peak periods and evenings.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Federal, state and local officials will be on hand Monday to break ground on the much anticipated South Shore Double Track project. The $649 million project will add a second, 16.9-mile track next to the existing line between Gary and Michigan City.

Plans for the Double Track project have been in the works since 2016. In addition to the new track, the project will add four bridges and eight new platforms.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which is overseeing the project, says adding a second line will reduce travel time between Michigan City and Millennium Park in Chicago by 33 minutes.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says the project will result in “unmatched economic growth for the region and the state.” The project is scheduled for completion in 2024.

Governor Eric Holcomb will join Senator Todd Young (R-IN), Congressman Frank Mrvan (D-1), former Congressman Pete Visclosky, and FTA Region 5 Regional Administrator Kelley Brookins for the groundbreaking, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. local time.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A family in Michigan City will be spotlighted in an upcoming episode of of the television show “Military Makeover with Montel,” hosted by Montel Williams. In partnership with Elkhart-based Patrick Industries Inc. (Nasdaq: PATK), U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Michael Stupar will receive a full home remodeling.

Stupar was injured while serving in Iraq, but ultimately was sent on four deployments. After recently moving to Michigan City, the family has dealt with family tragedies and health issues that the producers of “Military Makeover” say have made settling into a new home difficult.

BrandStar, the production company behind the show, says the process will involve local businesses and volunteers.

“As we begin this initial phase our goal is to generate awareness throughout the state of Indiana to garner support from local businesses, volunteers and anyone who wishes to simply be part of this amazing process,” said Mark Alfieri, founder and chief executive officer of BrandStar.

BrandStar says Patrick Industries has worked with the show before and will serve as the primary partner for the Stupar family project.

“Patrick is delighted to partner with Military Makeover with Montel in Q3 and provide the needed resources to help update and transform the home of the Stupar family,” said Andy Nemeth, CEO of Patrick Industries. “We strive to always put our customers, team members and community first and are committed to lending a helping hand in any way we can to make the dreams of the Stupar family come true.”

The project is expected to begin this summer.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Michigan City-based Horizon Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: HNBC) is reporting full-year net income of $87.1 million in 2021, up from $68.5 million the previous year. The parent of Horizon Bank also announced Wednesday that President Jim Neff plans to retire at the end of March.

Horizon is also reporting fourth quarter net income of $21.4 million, down slightly from $21.9 million during the same period in 2020.

“Horizon capped 2021 with record annual earnings and net interest income, as well as continued growth in commercial and consumer loans through the fourth quarter, mortgage production well in–line with our expectations, strong asset quality metrics and continued disciplined expense management,” Chief Executive Officer Craig Dwight said in a news release. “We enter 2022 with strong pipelines to support our loan growth goals for the year, successfully integrated a new team of advisors and customers onboarded through the September acquisition of 14 branches and low–cost deposits to expand Horizon’s Michigan franchise, and a balance sheet that is very well positioned for increasing short term interest rates.”

Horizon says Neff informed the company this week of his intention to retire on March 31. As a result of his decision, the bank has made several leadership changes.

Horizon has promoted Noe Najeria to executive vice president. In his new role, Najera will be responsible for consumer, mortgage, and mortgage warehouse lending, as well as CRA and fair lending programs.

Additionally, Executive Vice President Lynn Kerber will be promoted to Chief Commercial Banking Officer. She succeeds Dennis Kuhn, who has been appointed regional president for southwest Michigan.

“With Jim’s distinguished banking career of nearly 44 years and more than two decades on our executive management team, Horizon has benefitted greatly from his significant contributions, and we look forward to his continued friendship as we wish him the very best in retirement,” said Dwight. “In naming Noe, Lynn and Dennis to their new roles, we are able to draw from Horizon’s deep bench of highly experienced bankers to ensure that all our talented advisors have the leadership and resources they need to serve growing numbers of consumers and businesses in Indiana, Michigan and throughout the Midwest.”

The banking company says Dwight will assume the role of president upon Neff’s retirement until a permanent successor is found, the search for which will be conducted by an executive search firm.

You can connect to Horizon’s fourth quarter and full-year earnings report by clicking here.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A Michigan City-based brewery is planning a big expansion. Burn ‘Em Brewing says it will invest nearly $2 million to acquire and renovate a former warehouse building in the city’s downtown and create up to 30 full-time jobs.

The Economic Development Corp. Michigan City says the new facility is expected to nearly double production and expand distribution. The location will also include an event center, taproom, full-scratch kitchen and patio.

“It is important to us to keep our business here in Michigan City. We have been on the outskirts of town for almost seven years now, and downtown is important to us as we feel it will bring us closer to the city and its people,” said Steve Murray, co-founder and head brewer at Burn ‘Em Brewing. “We feel that we will be able to participate and give back to the city better with a closer proximity to downtown.”

EDCMC Executive Director Clarence Hulse says the revitalization of the building adds to the momentum the city is seeing stemming from the planned 11th Street Station as part of the South Shore Line’s Double Track project.

“The team will add even more vitality to downtown with a new spot to gather with family, friend and neighbors over food or drinks,” Hulse said. “These are the types of projects that are really exciting as they not only add value in terms of job creation and tourism dollars, but also in quality of life with a fresh energy.”

The brewery expects to break ground in the next few months with the goal of opening in the fall of 2022 or spring of 2023.

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

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Michigan City-based Horizon Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: HBNC) is reporting record third quarter net income of $23.1 million, up from $20.3 million during the same period a year ago. Chief Executive Officer Craig Dwight says the banking company is well positioned for “more significant loan growth” in the markets it serves.

During the quarter, the bank completed its acquisition of 14 branches in Michigan from The Huntington National Bank (Nasdaq: HBAN). Dwight says the acquisition, combined with record net interest income and continued operational efficiency contributed to the record quarter.

Dwight adds the bank saw a modest increase in non-performing, substandard and delinquent loans, which is “fully attributed to the portfolio acquired as part of our September branch acquisition as total non–performing loans, excluding acquired loans, decreased $206,000 from June 30, 2021.”

You can connect to the full earnings report by clicking here.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Michigan City-based Horizon Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: HBNC) has completed its acquisition of 14 branches in Michigan from The Huntington National Bank (Nasdaq: HBAN).

The branches were previously owned by TCF National Bank, but had to be divested as part of Huntington’s merger with the parent of TCF.

Plans for the acquisition were first announced in May and received FDIC approval last month. The deal brings the total number of Horizon Bank branches to 88, including 29 in Michigan. 

“We are thrilled to welcome our newest employees and customers to Horizon Bank and look forward to serving growing numbers of consumers, small businesses, non-profits, and municipalities through our expanded Midwest footprint and this natural extension of our low-cost deposit franchise,” Horizon Chief Executive Officer Craig Dwight said in a news release. “I’ve been so proud of our entire team as they remain focused on a well-executed integration of these new branches, which include more than 50,000 primarily retail and small business customers accounts.”

The branches have been rebranded under the Horizon Bank name. The deal was Horizon’s fifth acquisition in as many years.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Michigan City-based Horizon Bancorp Inc. (Nasdaq: HBNC) is reporting record second quarter net income of $22.2 million, up from $14.4 million during the period last year. Chief Executive Officer Craig Dwight says the results, combined with an improving commercial lending pipeline and “ample liquidity and capital,” the parent of Horizon Bank is well positioned for more historic growth.

“We also continue to focus on disciplined management of our highly efficient operations and initiated plans to consolidate 10 locations this summer, reassigning employees to other open positions and investing savings into digital capabilities and opportunities in our growing Indiana and Michigan markets,” Dwight said in a news release.

In May, Horizon announced the acquisition of 14 TCF National Bank branches in Michigan. Dwight says the deal is on schedule to be complete in the third quarter.

You can connect to the full earnings report by clicking here.

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Mishawaka-based Franciscan Health has repurposed a location known for providing healthcare in LaPorte County since 1904. The health system has dedicated the Homer Street campus of Franciscan Health Michigan City, which includes a 14-bed behavioral health facility set to open later this summer.

The campus will also include a Prenatal Assistance and Senior Health & Wellness facility which will open in the fall.

Franciscan Health Michigan City President and Chief Executive Officer Dean Mazzoni says the relocation of the inpatient behavioral unit will open up space in the hospital for a medical surgical unit and he anticipates the project bringing 40 to 60 new jobs. The $20 million project includes demolishing older sections of the building, which is expected to be complete by December. 

“Through a board-approved $20 million investment, we will now have a revitalized campus that will offer much needed community programs and services. I would characterize our collective efforts simply as this: Promises made, promises kept – to the city, to our community and, most importantly, to our patients,” Mazzoni said.

Mazzoni says the project was the result of planning, discussions and work that started in 2016.