A NOTE FROM OUR CEO
Bill Konyha | President & CEO
June 15th, 2020
As we approach the midpoint of June, we continue to observe the protocols under which Governor Holcomb is leading Indiana back to normalcy. Accordingly, the Board Meeting of June 15th will be another virtual board meeting conducted via a video platform. We will begin to have a periodic presence in the office but will mostly do business as we have since this all started.
We began our efforts to raise funds to support the U.S. 30 Coalition’s effort to secure $15 million for the Environmental Impact Study (EIS), the required step to secure a place in the Indiana Department of Transportation’s (INDOT) long-term plan. Currently, it is not included, and without securing a spot, other projects will move ahead of this critical road construction project. The primary goal is to transform it into a freeway from its status as a free-flowing highway from Ohio to Valparaiso. The EIS is not a design document, but it is a document required prior to commencing any design work. The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana is raising $72,000 to defray part of the cost of securing the funding from businesses and some local units within the Region. After our first full week of meetings, we secured pledges totaling more than one-third of the required amount. We will continue these efforts and hope to complete this fundraising project by mid-July.
We have nearly completed the rosters of the four Policy Subcommittees authorized by the Board of Directors and will begin work in July. The object of the subcommittees is to identify potential regulatory or statutory issues for the Policy Committee to consider for inclusion into the 2021 Legislative Agenda. The work is already underway as our membership has recommended that four such issues be considered. These will be furnished to the subcommittee’s during their initial meeting and, if approved, will be forwarded to the Policy Committee. The subcommittees need not wait for suggestions but are encouraged to act independently to identify issues. Prior to submitting issues to the Policy Committee, we will have Catalyst Public Affairs Group conduct research to develop as much information as possible to facilitate discussion and help the Policy Committee to develop a consensus.
The Regional Chamber completed its efforts to support the Regional Partnership, the Mayor and Commissioner Caucus, and the RDA to develop a proposal for the Region’s ask for Corona Virus Relief Funds. It was a very complicated process, and we joined the Partnership in meeting with the LEDO Council, the Upper Wabash Valley Study Committee, the REMCs of the Region, the Northeast Indiana Chamber Coalition, and others to develop the consensus Regional Ask. We learned much from the process and understood the needs of the REMC to enable us to seek funding for Regional Connectivity (rebranded from Rural Broadband) should our effort to seek these federal funds not result in success. We have already begun discussions with our Federal Legislative Delegation regarding an anticipated infrastructure bill and how this could provide an avenue for all counties in the Region and throughout Rural America to move into the 21st Century with this critical piece of infrastructure.