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J. Sebastian Smelko focuses on infrastructure investment and economic development structures, as well as governmental affairs. He maintains a wide-ranging government relations practice that combines public affairs advocacy, traditional legal acumen, and strategic policy and political guidance for both public and private sector clients. He has served as general counsel for the Ports of Indiana and as a policy director and the assistant general counsel in the office of former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, where he worked alongside current Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. 

Sebastian brings to bear a breadth of knowledge of the executive branch of government and procurement processes, analyzing and drafting policy initiatives and ushering legislation through the general assembly. He has experience in developing and drafting numerous pieces of legislation, including those impacting Public-Private Partnerships (P3) matters. With the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other COVID-related federal funding streams, Sebastian has advised local governments throughout the state on how to strategically utilize these increases in funding, and advised various private clients on leveraging incentive opportunities.   


Sebastian’s work on economic development projects of varying magnitudes includes analysis of project delivery methods and site selection with regional development authorities, port authorities, fiber optic and broadband opportunities, and public utilities on energy policy initiatives. He worked on the largest commuter rail expansion in Indiana’s history in the West Lake Corridor and the double tracking of the South Shore Line in northwest Indiana. Furthermore, he drafted and ushered the first Indiana legislation to encourage transit-oriented development through the statehouse.

Speaking Engagements
  • Adjunct Professor, Indiana University for Law, Legislation and Policy
  • Panelist, P3 Electrified Summit, The Electrification of Our Ports, September 21, 2023
  • Panelist, 2022 AIM Indiana Webinar, Social Media and Public Access Considerations, August 25, 2022
  • Panelist, Indiana Municipal Continuing Legal Education, Using the Build-Operate-Transafer (BOT) Statute and Structuring Considerations for P3s, August 24, 2022
  • Panelist, 2022 Indiana Conference of Mayors, Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Statute, August 11, 2022
  • Panelist 2022 Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association, Opportunities Under the Build Transfer Statute and the Structures of Public Private Partnerships, June 23, 2022
  • Moderator, 2021 P3 Conference - Opportunity Analysis for Large Infrastructure Projects: How Do You Stay Creative and Innovative While Working on a P3 Project?, September 14, 2021
  • Guest lecturer, Indiana University SPEA Class - Public Policy & the Legislative Process
  • Panelist, "Rail Projects Generations in the Making - How It Happened" during the P3 Government Conference with Bill Hanna, President & CEO of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, December 10, 2020
  • Panelist, How to Work With Your Advisors to Achieve Your Project Deliverables, Convention Sports and Entertainment Facilities Conference hosted by the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure (AIAI), August 14, 2020
  • "The Opportunity Zone Program: Selecting Your Opportunity Zones (Indiana)" Webinar, March 14, 2018
  • "The Opportunity Zone Program: Selecting Your Opportunity Zones (Indiana)" Webinar, March 8, 2018
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