State-wide Projects


Joe’s leadership and efforts resulted in significant accomplishments in communities across Indiana.

NICTD – West Lake Extension: With Joe’s help, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District was awarded a $300,000 Federal Transit Administration federal grant in September 2015 to plan proposed stations along the planned West Lake extension of the South Shore Line. Joe strongly advocated for the grant. Funding from the grant will be used to produce a strategic report that will focus on project planning and include specific deliverables including policy and implementation recommendations that are appropriate for Hammond, Munster, and Dyer. The West Lake Corridor Project is an effort to extend commuter rail into the southwestern area of Lake County, proposing to connect more Northwest Indiana communities to Chicago through a new branch rail line that will cover approximately 30 miles. The project will service high-growth areas and lower commuting time, travel costs, and attract and retain people who want to work in Chicago, spurring increased economic development throughout the region.

Rensselaer CSX Crossing: While meeting with the Rensselaer Police Chief in 2014, Joe heard about the city’s urgent need to repair a CSX rail crossing on State Road 231 near their downtown. The City of Rensselaer had been trying to work with INDOT and CSX for years in order to fix this crossing because it was becoming a public safety concern.  Ambulances and police cars had a difficult time safely traveling over the at-road crossing. Joe reached out to INDOT and CSX about the situation and worked directly with CSX to resolve the problem. CSX agreed to repair the rail crossing, allowing for easier and safer passage of cars, ambulances, and police cars.

Urschel Lab – Innovation Bridge: When Urschel Laboratories Inc. was building its new global headquarters in Chesterton in 2014 their construction company, Tonn & Blank, required a particular permit from the Army Corps of Engineer in order to build a bridge that would extend from the roadway to the front of their new entrance.  In June of 2014, Joe worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, and a permit was issued in a timely manner, allowing for construction of the bridge to occur in time for Urschel Laboratories to open its 350,000-square foot headquarters on time in August 2015. Without the permit, Urschel would not have had the necessary bridge to connect the road to the main entrance. Joe visited Urschel Laboratories for a “Donnelly Day” in August 2016, when he worked alongside employees in the food processing machine assembly department. 

South Bend International Airport: With Joe’s help, in December 2013 the South Bend International Airport was designated a User Fee Airport, a required step in order to expand services for passengers to fly directly to-and-from international destinations. Joe strongly supported the airport’s application to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This designation paved the way for the airport to build a safe and secure facility to establish international clearance operations and meet U.S. Customs and Border Protection standards. The airport went on to receive federal and state funds and used airport funds to construct an $11 million international terminal and customs facility. At one point, the South Bend International Airport encountered some challenges and needed clarification on who to work with at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. After Joe got involved, the South Bend International Airport received the guidance to move the project along. The project moved forward and the airport announced in April 2014 that it plans to add international flights in the future. The expansion of the airport not only will benefit travelers but the regional economy.

Grissom/Miami County Economic Development: Joe worked for several years, dating back to his time as 2nd District Congressman, to assist the Miami County Economic Development Corporation in bringing aircraft maintenance company Dean Baldwin Painting to Peru. Joe strongly supported Miami County Development Corporation’s application for funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. With Joe’s help, the U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded $2.5 million toward the community’s economic development strategy.  Joe also facilitated conversations between Miami County Development Corporation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Economic Development Administration that resulted in the establishment of Dean Baldwin’s eastern U.S. operations locating adjacent to Grissom Air Reserve Base. This brought approximately 200 jobs. In September 2013, Peru Mayor, Jim Walker, recognized Joe’s efforts at the groundbreaking ceremony in Peru. Joe also visited Dean Baldwin Painting in August 2014 to be trained in sanding techniques alongside workers in the aircraft strip and paint services industry for a “Donnelly Day.”  

Anderson Eisenhower Bridge Replacement: Joe worked closely for several years with the City of Anderson, Madison County, the Department of Transportation, and the Secretary of Transportation to help the City secure a highly competitive grant through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant (TIGER) program. Joe strongly supported the project by writing to and speaking with then-Secretary Anthony Foxx about the critical impact this project would have on the area. The $13.5 million grant was awarded in July 2016 and will help Anderson and Madison County rebuild the crumbling Eisenhower Bridge that connects the city’s core neighborhoods. The bridge is a critical component of Madison County’s economic infrastructure.  

Fort Wayne VA Hospital: In October 2012, the Fort Wayne campus of the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System conducted an internal patient review that found serious issues with the quality of care being provided to Hoosier veterans. In November 2012, then Senator-elect Joe Donnelly and then-Congressman Marlin Stutzman called for the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate problems that led to the suspension of inpatient admissions at the Fort Wayne VA hospital. In August 2013, VA OIG released a report on the investigation and made recommendations on restoring hospital operations. Upon reading the report, Joe expressed serious concerns about the level of care that Hoosier veterans were receiving and called on the hospital management to quickly implement recommendations made by the OIG to improve services for veterans and management of the facility. Since then, the Fort Wayne VA hospital has worked to improve inpatient services and restore faith in the campus. In September 2014, the hospital received permission to re-open its intensive care unit. Joe is pleased with the hospital’s progress, but continues to regularly and closely monitor the performance of the Fort Wayne VA hospital.

Train Whistles in Muncie near Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center: Joe helped the City of Muncie coordinate with the Federal Railroad Administration to implement quiet zones near the site of the new Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center in downtown Muncie, so trains no longer sound their whistles in town. The quiet zone project involved closing or upgrading downtown-area railroad crossings to eliminate the need for trains to sound their whistles in a multi-block area downtown. Implementation of these quiet zones were a requirement of the agreement between Marriott, the City, and Arc of Indiana. By working with the Federal Railroad Administration, the quiet zones were approved and the City was able to fulfill the agreement.

Portland Municipal Airport: In 2014, Joe advocated for federal funding in support of the City of Portland’s and the Portland Municipal Airport’s runway extension request. The City and airport were seeking a runway extension in order to strengthen the community’s economic development efforts. With Joe’s support, the City of Portland and the Portland Municipal Airport secured federal funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to study the feasibility of extending the runway.  The study was completed and found a longer runway is needed. The new project is in the design phase with the goal of extending of the runway in the future.

Franklin Junior High School Acquisition: Joe helped facilitate conversations between the City of Fort Wayne and the General Services Administration (GSA), to help the city acquire an old junior high school, which was vacant and an eyesore in the community. Built in 1921, the building served Fort Wayne Community Schools students until the district closed it in 1981 and sold the site to the U.S. Navy. Since the building was previously owned by the federal government, there were restrictions on how the building could be used. After the City attempted to work with the GSA for over a year, the City approached Joe for guidance in 2014 on how to acquire the school building. Joe worked to ensure that GSA remained engaged in working with the City’s Parks Department to purchase the property. In 2014, the city purchased the school and later drew up plans to use the land for a new community park in the North Highlands neighborhood. The park is now open and the City has been steadily making improvements to it.

New Castle Henry County Municipal Airport: Joe supported the City of New Castle’s and Henry County’s effort to secure funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to construct a new runway. In September 2016 the airport received $2.6 million in FAA funding for this project. Construction is underway and the new runway will accommodate small jet-powered and large propeller-powered aircrafts. The new runway is expected to enhance local economic development efforts.

Promise Zone Designation Near Eastside Indianapolis: Joe supported and helped secure a federal Promise Zone designation for the Near Eastside of Indianapolis (IndyEast) in April 2015. Donnelly advocated for IndyEast’s application to secure this designation.  Awarded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, this designation will help support efforts aimed at creating affordable housing and job opportunities, improving education, and reducing violent crime while enabling new pathways to the middle class for those living in the area. The Promise Zone designation commits the federal government to an intensive partnership with local leaders, businesses, and residents, who are addressing multiple community revitalization challenges in a collaborative way and have demonstrated a commitment to invest in what works. As a Promise Zone designee, IndyEast will have dedicated federal staff on the ground to help the community implement their plans, as well as five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers for the effort. In addition, IndyEast will receive priority access to federal investments that advance their plan. Promise Zone designations last for 10 years.

Supporting Carrier and Rexnord Workers Losing Jobs to Outsourcing: Joe supported and helped secure several significant federal grants and benefits that will assist workers losing their jobs at Carrier and Rexnord due to outsourcing. He has consistently fought for federal resources and benefits for workers who have had their lives upended by corporate decisions to move operations outside of the United States so that workers can find new employment or gain additional skills training. Joe announced in September 2016 that Carrier workers in Indianapolis will be eligible for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and in January 2017 that Rexnord workers will be eligible for these same benefits. These federal benefits are made available to workers who lose their jobs because of foreign trade. TAA provides these workers with additional benefits and access to skills training and job-searching assistance to help them find new employment. Joe cosponsored and voted to reauthorize and expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program in 2015, and that legislation was signed into law. In addition, with Joe’s support, the City of Indianapolis received a competitive grant award in September 2016 from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Agency (EDA) to hire a Recovery Coordinator. The position will be tasked with working to mitigate the hardships of unemployment and finding alternative employment opportunities, particularly for those impacted by the job losses at Indianapolis’ Carrier and Rexnord facilities. In March 2017, the Indianapolis City Council approved plans to hire a recovery coordinator through Develop Indy, the local economic development organization for Marion County that is part of the Indy Chamber.

Justin Phillips, “Champion of Change”: In April 2016, Joe announced that Justin Phillips of Indianapolis was recognized as a “Champion of Change” by the White House. He nominated Justin Phillips in recognition of her continued work in the fight against Indiana’s prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemics. Since losing her son, Aaron Sims, 20, to a heroin overdose in 2013, Phillips has become a leading voice for families facing addiction in Indiana. She founded the non-profit Overdose Lifeline to help purchase and distribute naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, in the Indianapolis area. She also worked with Indiana legislators on a bill known as Aaron’s Law to expand access to naloxone throughout the state. As a “Champion of Change,” Justin participated in a panel discussion at the White House in April 2016.

Small Business Administration Indy Chamber Business Ownership Initiative: Joe helped the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s Business Ownership Initiative achieve designation as an official microlending intermediary through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) – allowing the Indy Chamber to expand lending opportunities to small businesses across the nine-county Indianapolis region. In 2014, Joe advocated on behalf of the Business Ownership Initiative to the SBA. Later, Joe joined Chamber officials and other community leaders in October 2015 to announce the SBA designation. Indy Chamber President and CEO Michael Huber praised Joe’s leadership and for championing Business Ownership Initiative’s inclusion in the SBA program. The microlending opportunities help support small businesses and entrepreneurs that are creating jobs and investing in our local communities. In addition to microlending, the Business Ownership Initiative offers coaching, classes, and other services to help loan recipients and other local businesses facing limited resources and unique challenges.

Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault: Joe supported the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault’s (ICESA) successful application to secure federal grant funding for their “Ending College Campus Sexual Assault” plan. In addition, Joe worked with ICESA to help the organization expedite the process to get their nonprofit status approved so they could be eligible to apply for federal funds. ICESA will use the $214,070 federal grant to partner with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, IUPUI, Marian University, University of Indianapolis, Franklin College, DePauw University, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IUPUC, Butler University, Purdue University, St. Mary’s College, and several domestic and sexual violence prevention nonprofit organizations to develop a comprehensive training and communications program targeted toward students.

King Park Development Corporation: With Joe’s support, King Park Development Corporation, an IndyEast non-profit community development organization, was awarded a significant $800,000 federal grant in September 2016. The grant came following the IndyEast neighborhood’s designation as a federal Promise Zone—an effort Joe also strongly supported. The grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Community Economic Development program will help IndyEast businesses grow and hire local workers. This will provide opportunities for economic success in a hard-hit area by giving small businesses greater access to capital and low-interest rate loans when they hire unemployed or underemployed workers. King Park promised, as part of their application, “to work with at least three businesses and create at least 40 jobs for the area.”

Indiana Rail Road’s White River Bridge: With Joe’s help, the Indiana Railroad Company received more than $8.2 million in funding from a federal TIGER grant to complete their White River Bridge. Joe supported the Indiana Railroad Company’s application to the Department of Transportation. The new steel-girder and pre-stressed concrete bridge supports economic development from Daviess County to the Ohio River. The bridge now handles trains at 40 mph and rail industry maximum loads of 286,000 pounds, keeping southern Indiana shippers competitive in the global marketplace. The previous pin-connected truss bridge was built in 1899 and, in recent years, had weight restrictions and a speed limit of 10 mph due to its age. Indiana Rail Road serves a variety of southwest Indiana customers through its Odon Transload, a rail-to-truck transfer facility near the Interstate 69-State Road 58 interchange. The Indiana Southern Railroad (ISRR) also uses the bridge to link the north and south segments of its Indianapolis-Evansville route. This bridge holds economic significance for Indiana and will promote better safety and mobility for Hoosiers and their manufactured goods.

Ivy Tech Wabash Valley Precision Agricultural Equipment Technology Center of Excellence: With Joe’s help, Ivy Tech Community College Wabash Valley received more than $1.1 million in federal funding to help build the Precision Agricultural Equipment Technology Center of Excellence. Hoosier students will gain access to skills and training needed to find a local, good paying job in the agriculture industry. Joe supported Ivy Tech’s application to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The April 2017 award came from the Economic Development Administration’s grant program, which will expand Ivy Tech’s vocational training curriculum to include training related to planting crops, applying fertilizer, harvesting, and other farming operations.

Austin/Scott County COPs Grant:  With Joe’s help, the Scott County Sheriff’s Department was awarded a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant that resulted in $125,000 to fund an additional police officer. The Scott County Sheriff’s Department needed to increase its staff to effectively combat the influx of prescription drugs and confront drug-related crime. In June 2015, Joe supported the Scott County Sheriff Department’s application to the U.S. Department of Justice. In September 2015, Scott County was awarded the COPS Hiring grant. In 2015, Joe was actively engaged with local leaders, health care providers, and state and public health experts working to tackle the prescription drug abuse and HIV crisis. He also visited Austin High School to meet with students and the following year returned to deliver the keynote commencement address at graduation.

Salem Airport: With Joe’s assistance, the Salem Airport overcame a delay in receiving funding for its airport runway renovation. Joe worked with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Salem Airport, and elected officials to reach a conclusion on funding for the airport runway. In March 2015, Joe’s office attended the groundbreaking of the new Salem Airport runway.  And, in 2015 they received a $3.5 million FAA grant for their new 5,000 foot runway expansion.

Batesville Airport: In 2015, Joe supported the privately-owned Batesville Airport’s application to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to become a Public Use Airport. Batesville Aviation Services owner Shorty Whittington said he sought the certification in order to expand use of the airport and to assist local businesses and community members. With Joe’s help, the airport’s request was granted.  In January 2016, Batesville leaders announced that the Batesville Airport was recognized as a public airport and would be eligible to receive FAA funding moving forward. With the change in the airport’s certification, it is another economic asset to the Batesville, Ripley County, and Franklin County communities.

Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville: Joe strongly advocated for and helped secure the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville’s $10 million federal grant in October 2015 that will spur development and create more job opportunities in southeast Indiana. The Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will allow the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville to improve its freight services by funding the Truck-to-Rail and Rail-to-Water Improvements Project. This project will extend the port’s rail track to help increase freight handling capacity, and more efficiently transfer bulk commodities from trucks and rail to barges for waterborne transport. "Anything we can do to strengthen the infrastructure for the region will make us more attractive to companies looking to expand and entice them to grow their business here,” River Ridge Commerce Center Executive Director Jerry Acy said. “The more companies we bring to the region, the more jobs we can help create for Hoosiers.” 

New Carlisle Bridge: With Joe’s help, the bridge project on U.S. 20 in New Carlisle resumed and was completed after delays due to permitting, structural, and safety issues. The stalled construction project began in early May 2017 and was projected to take no more than 30 days. Project delays caused restricted access to downtown New Carlisle, negatively impacting downtown businesses and public safety. On June 16, 2017, after hearing from a number of concerned residents, local elected officials, first responders, and business owners in New Carlisle, Joe sent a letter to Norfolk Southern requesting the railroad resolve any issues delaying the continuation of work near the U.S. 20 bridge in a timely and safe manner. On June 23, 2017, Joe coordinated efforts with Norfolk Southern, INDOT, the Town of New Carlisle, and Governor Holcomb’s office to address the water, structural, and permitting issues delaying construction and asked for a timeline for getting the construction project moving toward completion. On June 28, 2017, construction resumed and the bridge reopened on July 25, 2017.