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NWI’s people have accessible, safe, and equal
opportunities for working, playing, living and learning.
For more information and resources in regard to COVID-19, please visit the

Northwest Indiana Growth Patterns

While it is far too early to tell what the effect of COVID-19 on growth and development will be within the Northwest Indiana region, the development trend, particularly for residential uses, had already been shifting away from the more historically urban por­tions of the region. NIRPC obtained the new release of the 2016 land cover data and performed an analysis and comparison of the region's growth pattern and urbanization from 1992-2016. The data indicates that over that time frame, the amount of developed land used for residential, commercial, recreational, and industrial uses increased by 89% (103,370 acres) , which is about 161 sq. miles . While the area dedicated to open space decreased by 17% (55,264 acres) , about 86 sq. miles .

However, the agricultural land increased by 0.2% (953 acres) , about 1.5 sq. miles . This increase happened between 2006 and 2011 and the majority of the increase was specifically in LaPorte County. But it decreased yet again by 1,334 acres between 2011 and 2016. While the amount of developed land dramatically increased during this time period, during a nearly com­parable time period from 1990 to 2016, the population of the region only increased by 2% .

These trends have important implications for the future of the region. Clearly, land consumption is occurring at a disproportionate rate to popula­tion growth, and this pattern of growth is consuming the region’s open space and agricultural lands.
Economy and Place
The Value of Downtowns

Even if downtown areas seem unusually quiet during these unusual times, they form the basis of community identity that keeps us connected amidst even the most pressing challenges.

The International Downtown Association (IDA) recently released The Value of U.S. Downtowns and Center Cities , a report that gives an idea of what makes a truly successful downtown.

The new report uses data to document the outsized economic, social, and symbolic value downtowns create for their regions The IDA measured the performance of 24 downtowns across five key areas—economy, inclusion, vibrancy, identity, and resilience. planning, especially in a downtown, is embedded in the concept of access—access to daily services, to diverse housing options at all income levels, to mobility choices and to the amenities that make lives brighter.

The report serves as a valuable snapshot that helps begin to understand the individual elements that collectively achieve a thriving downtown and region. 

Read the report and download the report here.
Top 5 Ways to Connect with the Environment While Social Distancing

Indiana's current stay-at-home order still encourages outdoor recreation (while remaining distanced), so check out this clip from Indiana Dunes National Park for a little bit of sunshine!

Social distancing is new term that we have been learning to live with but now as temperatures are rising and the need to go outside is increasing, here are the top 5 ways to connect with nature while social distancing.
5. Go for a walk in your neighborhood in the morning or near twilight. Leave your earbuds at home and listen to the birds. Stock your birdfeeder and keep an eye out for local and migrating songbirds.

4. Insomnia keeping you up at night? Go outside and look at the stars.

3. Enjoy April Flowers - local ephemeral native wildflowers are starting to bloom in our region’s many natural areas.  Shirley Heinze Land Trust has nature preserves open to the public in all three NWI Counties.

2. Picnic at a local park - outdoor spaces in most parks remain open to the public. Check out Porter County Parks and Rec blog for an “How to Practice Social Distancing at Parks."

1. Take A Hike in the Dunes - Outdoor spaces and trails at Indiana Dunes National Park are still open to the public. At the Indiana Dunes State Park comfort stations, restrooms, and picnic areas are open.
Community Crossings Matching Grants Awarded

To help keep Indiana projects flowing in the current crisis, Governor Holcomb and INDOT have announced awards for the first round of Community Crossings matching grants of 2020. Over $15 million of projects were awarded in the NIRPC region.

The following communities were awarded grants:

Cedar Lake ($671,489.32), Chesterton ($237,877.50),
Crown Point ($1,000,000.00)
Dyer ($725,347.00)
Hammond ($403,974.50)
Hebron ($365,651.25)
Highland ($1,000,000.00)
Hobart ($997,321.08)
Kingsford Heights ($152,426.25)
Kouts ($296,559.00)
La Porte ($994,812.77)
Lake Station ($896,250.09)
Long Beach ($990,158.55)
Lowell ($1,000,000.00)
Michigan City ($207,973.20)
Munster ($554,107.00)
New Chicago ($361,476.00)
Portage ($1,000,000.00)
Porter ($602,948.08)
Porter County ($500,000.00)
Schererville ($970,339.99)
Town of Pines ($78,942.18)
Trail Creek ($332,561.25)
Valparaiso ($1,000,000.00)
Westville ($120,000.00)
Total NWI awards ($15,460,215,01)
NIRPC has designed and implemented an interactive  COVID-19  dashboard onto its website, which you can find  here.  Track and observe how  COVID-19  is impacting communities across Northwest Indiana.
Meetings are subject to change due to COVID-19 Protocol.
NIRPC Commission/Executive Board Meeting
  • May 21st
  • 9:00 AM
  • Lake Michigan Room, 6100 Southport Road Portage, IN 46368
  • Link for more information
  • Questions? Contact Candice Eklund at 219-254-2501
  • Can’t make it in person? Watch it on YouTube
Funding Opportunity!
  • As many communities are struggling with Internet connectivity while working at home, the Office of Community and Rural Affairs is in the midst of round 2 of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant application. The grant is designed to promulgate access to reliable and affordable broadband service.
  • Letters of Intent were due by February 6, 2020.
  • The full application deadline is April 10, 2020
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