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updated: 6/22/2013 4:32 PM

8 groups interested in investing in Gary airport

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Associated Press

GARY, Ind. -- Eight groups are interested in investing in the Gary-Chicago International Airport, with two proposals focusing more on logistics than passenger service and another recommending it become a home for a green jobs training center.

They were among the responses to the airport's request for broad proposals from investors who would be willing to pump at least $100 million into the airport and the surrounding area. The airport has long sought to become Chicago's "third airport," handling overflow from the city's two crowded airports, but as yet has been unable to do so.

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Allegiant Air announced in May it plans to stop service to Gary in August because its flights to and from Florida haven't attracted enough passengers.

The Times of Munster reports the proposals include operating the airport, providing financing for new infrastructure, creating a new Center for Green Industry and Technology with the help of Ivy Tech Community College, and moving the airport toward a more commercial or industrial business model.

Canada-based MXD Development Strategists, which has done planning for airports in Denver and Memphis, pitched the idea of surrounding the area with aviation-related firms or businesses that need to be near airports, such as logistics companies that ship food or other refrigerated items. The businesses also could benefit from nearby highways and railroad lines and would also have access to freighters on Lake Michigan, the company said.

Chicago-based environmental engineering firm Greeley and Hansen proposed green initiatives, public art and community outreach for the airport district. The firm wants to partner with Ivy Tech Corporate College to launch a research and training center that would provide job training to local residents on emerging green technologies, sustainable airport management and environmentally friendly infrastructure.

Members of an ad hoc committee that's working on a public-private partnership at the airport said they were encouraged by the proposals.

"This is very heartening and energizing, to have something real and concrete," committee member Carrie Hightman said.

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