The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority is known for its commitment to revitalizing and redeveloping the Region in Lake and Porter Counties, but some may not know one of the faces behind that effort. Jillian Huber works as the Grants Manager at the RDA, a position she has held for the past four years, and is an integral part of the RDA's grants aministration program which covers different and varying grants affiliated with the RDA.
“I have been with the RDA for about 10 years now, and it’s been quite the decade,” said Huber.
Huber has been with the RDA since 2007, only two years after the organization began, and has seen a lot of changes over the years. Starting out as an Administrative Assistant and moving to Executive Assistant and Special Projects Coordinator, and now Grants Manager, Huber has seen the organization grow and change. Now, her responsibilities are quite expansive and central to the RDA’s funding goals.
“It’s researching potential opportunities for the RDA’s mission. I work with our partners to identify local, state, and federal grants that fit the needs of our communities and the region,” explained Huber.
Huber has worked in the past with state and federal organizations to see RDA projects through, such as Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lake Michigan Coastal Program and more.
“In 2013, we worked closely with NIRPC and the Cities of Hammond, Gary, and East Chicago to create the Northwest Indiana Brownfields Coalition (NWIBC)” said Huber. “The Coalition currently has two active EPA grants. The Assessment grant and the Revolving Loan Fund (RLF). The Assessment grant is used to provide funding for brownfield environmental assessments and clean-up planning activities, while the RLF program is a loan program used to clean-up brownfields. The Coalition has completed over 25 environmental assessments and issued an RLF to the City of Gary for the Ambassador Apartments Brownfield clean-up effort. In my opinion, this Coalition has been tremendously successful. I am confident our successes are a result of the continued dedication and support from our community partners and the wonderful people I work with each day on these efforts.”
When asked what the most rewarding part of her job was, Huber said “being a part of a vision that helps our communities thrive. Economic development, especially in Northwest Indiana begins with redevelopment. And brownfield redevelopment is absolutely critical to quality of life improvements through the possibilities of increased tax base, job creation, the removal of blight, and most important protecting human health and our environment.”
Huber, who is a Hammond native and graduated from George Rogers Clark, received her bachelor’s in science in labor studies at IU, and has a master's in public administration from Capella University. Huber has three children, Ben, Sophie, and Ellie, whose name was inspired by the Disney movie, Up. Husband of eleven years, Johnny, is a builder for the BP Refinery in Whiting. Huber now lives in Schererville and is proud of the life her family has built.
“We’ve come a very long way and I’m proud of what we accomplished. I love being with my family. We do all kinds of things, we bike a lot, they love the museum and zoo in Chicago, we play board games. If I’m not at work or a work function, I’m with my family,” said Huber.
This pride is also very present in her position as Grants Manager at RDA where she has helped it grow into the institution it is today.
“There is so much history and so many moving pieces, many projects have transitioned into really great opportunities. The EPA saw RDA as a mechanism for collaboration and partnership. Though the cities of Hammond, Gary, and East Chicago are separate entities, they share boundaries and have similar demographics and brownfield concerns. The Coalition continues to move forward diligently to identify and remediate brownfield properties in Northwest Indiana,” said Huber.