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According to the Indiana Economic Development Corp., retail businesses move money only from place to place instead of bringing new money into the economy, Daniels said. He was the speaker Thursday during The Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours event at Horseshoe Casino.
While sporting goods stores Cabela’s and the proposed Bass Pro Shop in Portage have the potential to bring millions of dollars into the state, allowing them both to have sales increment tax financing (STIF) — which is on the books but has never been used in Indiana, according to Daniels — would cost more than it’s worth.
“Both companies asked for identical amounts of money, and the (IEDC) didn’t like it,” he said. “The IEDC has measured the cost benefits of spending the money vs. the return, and we don’t do retail.”
Daniels also said Indiana has another sporting goods entity, Gander Mountain, that never asked for the amounts of money Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop have.
“We’d love to see them both come to Indiana, and we plan to entice them with other tools. But we don’t know how we can offer them 10 or 20 times more (than Gander Mountain received),” Daniels said.
Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
Daniels said he was excited to see the shortened-yet-busy General Assembly as it involves his “Major Moves” plan. The plan would modernize toll collection on the Indiana Toll Road, seek authority to extend Interstate 69 and, most important, allow for public-private partnerships for the Toll Road.
Several companies in the United States and abroad will bid on such a partnership in two weeks at an auction, Daniels said, and if the money is right, the RDA will keep its $10 million with no problem.
If the bid amounts aren’t better than what the state can do for itself, however, RDA funding could be in jeopardy.
“We’ll look for other sources, but if the money’s not there, then projects will start dropping off the list,” he said. “And RDA’s funding could be cut.”
But with the City of Chicago’s success with privatizing the Chicago Skyway and other states looking into the public-private partnerships for roads, Daniels was confident in the plan’s feasibility.
Daniels also gave transportation a big nod, saying that he and the General Assembly will work on closing the state’s “second deficit” that would increase the amount of resources for infrastructure improvements. In turn, those improvements would boost the economy and help bring more development to Northwest Indiana.
“If you’re the state that calls itself 'The Crossroads of America,’ we have to do to more to promote that,” he said. “Currently, we’re $2 billion to $3 billion short of having money to build what we need, but we’re not going to triple the gas tax.”