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Tom Dakich — A Debt Called Home

Gary native traveled world for career but realized Region should share digital success

Tom Dakich always has been a forward-thinking leader.

When he was a high school student at Andrean in Merrillville, he wasn’t that interested in sports — except for golf. His younger brother, Dan, was a star basketball player at Indiana and his dad played college basketball.

Sports were a big part of his family.

Not for Tom.

“I didn’t want to play,” he said. “I was always the guy that wanted to own the team.”

Dakich doesn’t own any teams, but his work in the telecommunications industry has taken him around the world.

Dakich, an attorney who received his law degree in Indiana, has closed over $500 million in telecommunications deals.

He has been involved with data centers in Los Angeles, New York, London and Chicago, and he has worked on every continent except Antarctica.

Over the last decade, Dakich has used his professional expertise where his heart is and always has been — in Northwest Indiana.

Dakich had his aha moment about returning to the Region in 2013.

That’s when Dakich was cornered by his good friend, Erica Dombey, president of the Regional Development Co. in Valparaiso. In a conversation with her, Dombey bluntly told him it was time to get back home.

Dakich had been struggling to get a digital data center running in Chicago. There were constant roadblocks, like getting permits and dealing with red tape from the city, which kept delaying the project.

Dombey pitched the idea of moving the digital center, which is now Digital Crossroads, to Hammond.

“I told him, ‘Hey, you were born and raised in the Region and throughout all your travels, you came back to Indiana,’” she recalled. “’You didn’t move to Germany. You didn’t live in New York. This is a huge investment. Why don’t you give back to the community you were raised and lived in and keep coming back to? Your friends are here, and your parents are here. Come back to your roots and give back to the people where you started.’”

The conversation resonated with Dakich, who said she “struck a nerve. I owed Northwest Indiana a debt.”

Dakich has been repaying that debt for the past 10 years.

Dakich moved Digital Crossroads to Hammond. The data center is dedicated to creating internet access for underserved communities. In 2021, a $28 million investment allowed the company to expand.

His latest project is the SoLa development. The mixed-use project includes two boutique hotels, restaurants and new living spaces near Washington Park in Michigan City. It’s expected to have a $680 million impact on the local economy over the next 15 years.

Scott Goodman, the principal of Farpoint Development and Decennial Group, hired Dakich. Goodman, who is spearheading the SoLa project, worked with Dakich on the Digital Crossroads Center.

“I think (Goodman) was happy with (the Digital Crossroads project) so he brought me in,” Dakich said.

Dakich is also the CEO of Quantum Corridor, a technology consortium that is developing high-speed fiber optics using qubits. They create a lightning-fast route for data travel.

In October, Quantum Corridor transmitted data from Chicago to Digital Crossroads at a speed a thousand times faster than traditional transmission. There is a worldwide race to develop the technology, which will be used by the Department of Defense and other government agencies as well as businesses that are working in cyber security, machine learning and biotech.

It’s perhaps the most consequential project that he’s involved with.

Quantum Corridor will have the ability to use 263 miles of new and unused fiber optic cables that travel under the toll road through Indiana.

Dakich said Northwest Indiana has underutilized assets.

“The scientists that come to Northwest Indiana because of Quantum will be game-changing,” Dakich said. “This stuff is amazing.”

Dakich is all-in on his community. He spends most of his time working in Northwest Indiana. He sold his house in Munster a year ago, but he plans to buy one in either Miller or Ogden Dunes while keeping his home in Carmel.

Dakich’s goal is to elevate the perception of Northwest Indiana across the country.

“I actually think that in 30 years some of the things we are doing now will change the world,” he said.

He said the Region won’t be viewed as lost space anymore.

“Northwest Indiana is part of Chicago but not really,” Dakich said. “Northwest Indiana is part of Indiana but not really. Those places should be saying, ‘We’re part of Northwest Indiana and Northwest Indiana is part of us.’ I think that is changing very quickly.”

Article Source:
- Northwest Indiana Business Magazine I "Tom Dakich - A debt called home" I February 1, 2024