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The Scoop

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Task force works to connect I-69 to Roanoke

Statement issued Friday:

NORTHEAST INDIANA, August 26, 2011- The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana today announced an unique collaborative effort to improve access between I-69 and US 24 at Roanoke, Indiana in eastern Huntington County.

The effort includes establishment of a multi-county, public-private taskforce that will serve as the chief advocate and public voice of the proposal. Its goal is to enhance infrastructure along four miles of county road between I-69 at the General Motors cloverleaf and US 24 at the town of Roanoke.

“Northeast Indiana leaders in both the public and private sectors unanimously agree that improving critical infrastructure is vital to economic development that supports sustained job growth,” Matt Bell, Executive Director of The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana said. “We have consistently heard that creating expanded access from I-69 to US 24 in Roanoke is a top regional priority. The taskforce we are announcing today is charged with making a compelling case for this important project, and will coordinate directly with local, state, and federal transportation and economic development officials.”

Huntington County Surveyor Jay Poe is Chairman of the newly formed taskforce. Mr. Poe has served as Huntington County’s elected surveyor for 21 years following an eight year tenure at the Indiana Department of Transportation. Mr. Poe, along with Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters and Huntington County Commissioner Tom Wall, will serve as the Executive Committee of the Regional Chamber’s taskforce.

“I am honored to work with Commissioners Peters and Wall, and with leaders from across Northeast Indiana, in this endeavor,” said Poe. “As a Huntington County resident I believe that improving access between I-69 and U.S. 24 is a vital economic development opportunity, as well as an important safety upgrade. We look forward to an open, honest, and respectful dialog with officials at the local, regional, state, and federal levels to build the partnerships necessary to move this project forward.”

The announcement of the taskforce was welcomed by officials at all levels of government citing the importance of local, state, regional, and federal cooperation.

“The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is encouraged by the effort to bring together a regional taskforce to positively and proactively address this potential expansion,” said INDOT Chief of Staff Robert Zier. “We look forward to an open and honest discussion with the taskforce to identify how INDOT can best support its goals.”

“Regional cooperation and collaboration represents Northeast Indiana’s best opportunity to compete in a global economy,” John Sampson, President and CEO of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership commented. “Local economic development officials from across Northeast Indiana have stressed the importance of this project. We are very pleased that the Regional Chamber is engaging leaders from across Northeast Indiana to champion this important infrastructure development.”

“Huntington County is thrilled that leaders in Allen County and across Northeast Indiana are coming together to study and plan for improved safety and connectivity that also promotes economic development throughout the region,” Huntington County Commissioner Tom Wall said. “We anticipate building great partnerships with private industry, as well as transportation and economic development officials, as we study the need for this improvement and the best options for addressing the needs we identify.”

The taskforce recognizes that concerns over the national debt and diminishing gasoline tax revenue are just two of many factors that challenge efforts to develop infrastructure in the 21st century. Nevertheless, the taskforce is committed to identifying, documenting, and supporting critical projects that encourage economic development in Northeast Indiana. That is particularly true when those same developments represent improvements in public safety.

“We look forward to studying the issue and working with our partners to develop an appropriate, data-driven design and financing plan. I-69 is Northeast Indiana’s most important economic artery. Linking it with US 24 in Huntington County improves access for manufacturers, travelers, and tourists. We think the potential benefits for the entire region are significant,” Bell said.

ABOUT THE REGIONAL CHAMBER OF NORTHEAST INDIANA

The Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana promotes an environment in which individuals, businesses and communities thrive in a global economy. Through advocacy and collaboration, the Regional Chamber promotes policies that yield a limitless future in Northeast Indiana on the strength of 21st century talent, world-class infrastructure, and a business climate that fosters investment, growth and success.

The Regional Chamber is a membership organization comprised of more than 85 businesses from across the 10 county Northeast Indiana region.

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