Mike Riehle, President of Chamber Services for the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP), is a very social person.
“My goal is to make people happy,” Riehle said. "It's been fun to wake up and come [work on] different challenges every day."
In his first three months with LEAP, he’s hardly stopped moving, putting those skills and aspirations to work on retention and expansion efforts for local businesses.
"One of the exciting things [about this job] is getting out to speak to current members of our organization," he said. That means a lot of time on the ground, taking tours and talking with owners and employees, to better understand the challenges they are facing and their successes that need celebrating.
In his experience, the most common struggle for local companies is attracting applicants to fill open positions. So, LEAP has formed a “workforce taskforce” to collaborate with internal human resource departments and bolster existing programs like childcare offerings and soft skills training.
"We're trying to pick areas that we can find resources to help our employers that are not being duplicated in the county," he said.
Riehle, a lifetime La Porte resident, has a long history of finding ways to use his business savvy to benefit his community. After finishing a bachelor’s degree in finance at Indiana State University, he returned home to find work. Over the years he’s jumped at opportunities to serve on service committees both in and outside of his job.
“My commitment to the community has been pretty strong," he said. “As I've developed roots and gotten more involved in some of the local initiatives and boards, it’s built that passion to stay here."
Most recently, in addition to working with the La Porte Chamber of Commerce, he’s volunteered with the YMCA and the Kiwanis Club of La Porte, and for the past six years served as president of the Urban Enterprise Association.
Riehle reinforces that community passion and inspiration by raising his family in La Porte. He met his wife of 25 years when they were both in college, and she relocated to the area to join him after school. Both of their children went to La Porte schools. Their elder son is now a junior at Purdue University in West Lafayette and their daughter will be starting her freshman year at Notre Dame in the fall.
He attributes his social skills and community-oriented mindset to the examples set by his mother when he was growing up.
"She's always had energy and excitement,” Riehle said. “She's always been trusted and had great values, and it carries over to me.”
That dedication to others shines through, even in his free time. When not at the office or at a committee meeting, he spends time enjoying the smaller communities he and his wife have built over the years. Together, they’ll tailgate Purdue games, get together for rounds of golf, or organize pick-up basketball games.
“I love hanging out with my friends,” he said. “We always find time to be social.”