Sportsplex Groundbreaking Keeps Hammond Hot Streak

Inside INdiana Business is reporting a groundbreaking ceremony Friday for the $17 million Hammond Sportsplex and Community Center marks additional progress on what has been a series of economic development wins in the Lake County city. Plans for the facility, located on the former Woodmar Mall property, include six basketball courts, a dozen volleyball courts and two regulation-sized indoor soccer fields. During a recent interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Mayor Tom McDermott said he believes in the power of amateur sports and — as with other cities like Westfield — is betting big on the promise of youth athletic events and quality-of-place projects.

McDermott also talked about several other significant developments and receiving calls “continuously” from Illinois companies considering relocating to the northwest Indiana community. “Out location to Chicago is a major selling point. With the tax advantages we get in Indiana — I mean, I hear the rhetoric coming from Indianapolis and it’s truthful,” he told Gerry Dick. “We have a big advantage, because you can literally live in Hammond and work in the city, so you get the wages of the big city and the low taxes and environment that Indiana offers.”

McDermott also discussed “big win” projects including:

  • $30 million investment that keeps the city’s fourth-largest employer, Michigan-based Lear Corp., in Hammond. The new 240,000 square-foot plant will be boosted by a $4 million incentive package from the city.
  • A $25 million marina development involving retail and restaurants.
  • Canada-based PotashCorp’s $90 million Hammond Regional Distribution Center that opened in September.
  • Root Brothers Manufacturing & Supply Co. relocating a distribution operation in Hammond from Illinois, bringing nearly 50 workers.
  • American Stair Co. Inc. relocating its Illinois headquarters to Hammond, bringing 180 jobs.
  • Various quality-of-life projects, including trails.

McDermott says Hammond continues to face business attraction challenges, including the difficulty for employers to “uproot” existing operations despite potential long-term cost savings, and what he says is “too much government, too parochial,” suggesting a more streamlined form of government similar to the city-county structure set up in Indianapolis through the “UniGov” system.