Ask The Mayor: Terre Haute’s Duke Bennett

Mayor Bennett talks about the effects of new legislation ending certain TIF districts and Terre Haute's move to embrace the Wabash River.

BENNETT

Photo: Bill Shaw/WTIU News

Mayor Bennett speaks in his office at city hall in Terre Haute.

Guest host Jimmy Jenkins sat down with Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett who shared his thoughts on TIF districts, new development along the Wabash River and more distribution jobs coming to the city.

Listen to their full conversation above. Here are some highlights:

Jenkins: Recently it was announced a new distribution center for Casey’s General Stores would be located in Terre Haute. What others kinds of jobs and new businesses are you trying to entice to come to Terre Haute?

Bennett: I really believe this is going to be a good year for us here locally because I’m seeing a lot of these finalist positions that we’re in. But there’s two that are very specific. They fall into the same kind of thinking of why they want to locate here is because of our strategic location.

Jenkins: We just saw the close of the legislative session. One of the issues you said one of the issues that came out that might affect Terre Haute is allowing legacy TIFs to sunset. Can you tell us how that would affect downtown Terre Haute specifically?

Bennett: In a negative way. There’s been a push in the legislature to deal with the use of TIF districts across the state. It hurts us here specifically because they went after the legacy TIFs which means those TIF districts that have no end date. So ours will be sunset in 2025. We’ve had $220 million in investment in our downtown in the last seven or eight years and probably 90% of that would not have happened without a TIF district. It’s unfortunate because there’s a lot of things on the horizon that we might be able to do downtown but you have to have those incentives to kind of close the deal.

Jenkins: Last year was the year of the river where there was a lot of attention focused on joining Terre Haute more closely to the Wabash River, but obviously that work goes on.

Bennett: The city’s focus is primarily south of Ohio Street where our focus is to rehabilitate properties that are contaminated. Once we get those cleaned up and we can get them back in private hands, that’s the goal.

Jimmy Jenkins

Jimmy Jenkins is a multimedia journalist for WFIU and WTIU news. A native of Terre Haute, he is a masters student at the Indiana University School of Journalism and is proud to be a part of the public broadcasting stations he listened to and watched since he was a child. Follow him on Twitter @newsjunkyjimmy.

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