On an evening of warm food and conversation to complement the unusually warm February weather, investors and representatives from the Economic Development Corporations of both Michigan City and La Porte came together at Pottawattomie Country Club’s banquet hall to celebrate the huge strides that the 12-year economic partnership between the two cities has allowed both communities to enjoy.
“Tonight we bring all of our investors together to really just say thank you,” said Katie Eaton, the Economic Development Manager at the Economic Development Corporation in Michigan City. “The partnership we have here between the two organizations has really paid off these last three years, and because our investment campaign has grown since the last time, a lot of people that are here tonight aren’t only here to celebrate, but to show their commitment to sustaining that growth in the future.”
To share with everyone firsthand how much the partnership has impacted him and his own immediate community was Clarence Hulse, the Executive Director of the EDCMC, who found his calling to serve his community in Northwest Indiana after doing social work missions for two years in Latin America.
“After those two years, I realized that it’s better to teach someone how to fish instead of just give them a fish, and that’s my basic philosophy now in everything I do,” said Hulse. “And I’ve seen that when we help a company come to Michigan city or La Porte and we create jobs, that we are helping a real family, and that’s where my interest is.”
Both EDCMC and GLEDC corporations that were represented Wednesday evening are individually tasked with creating new jobs in their respective cities, alongside attracting new businesses and investments from both within and outside of the area. In 2006, the two organizations formed an official partnership between them, a move that has allowed the two areas to flourish economically like never before.
“Property values are on the increase, per capita income is up slightly, and unemployment has stabilized around 4.1%,” said Mayor Ron Meer of Michigan City, recalling that last figure to have been hovering around 10% when he first took office.
Moreover, both organizations can boast over $50 million in capital investment over the last three year period, numbers that are a big deal for two smaller-sized cities in Northwest Indiana.
“The partnership between the two organizations has existed since 2006, and we like to bring the two organizations together to update each other on what we’re doing and for networking," explained Executive Director of Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation, Bert Cook. “I think it is unique. We’re using resources that we develop throughout La Porte County, and we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck when it comes to those resources, because instead of supporting different organizations and asking everyone for that support, we come as one broader group. I don’t think most companies see geographic or political boundaries, they see general areas, and this gives us a stronger approach.”
Yet, the evening wasn’t one for pats on the back, and when it was time for speeches and acknowledgements, everyone mostly let the numbers speak for themselves. Sure, sets of miniature flyers were set out amongst a few of the corner tables, each listing off the achievements that each corporation has contributed to their respective communities. Other than that, though, the majority of the spotlight was not shined on the statistics, but on the continued progressive relationship between the two communities, and the positive influence it has had on the businesses and families in the area.
“With all of this economic development, it’s important to remind people that if 500 jobs are created between Michigan City and La Porte, those are for La Porte citizens, Michigan city residents, and for the rest of the county as well,” said Mayor Meer. “We’re breaking records in investment in the private sector, and I know the growth we’ve seen is the start of a trend that will continue for generations.”
As only would be fitting on an evening that celebrated the cooperative success of both cities, Mayor Meer spoke to the crowded room of investors and partners alongside a La Porte Mayor, Mark Krentz. To cap off the night’s theme of dual prosperity between the cities, Mayor Krentz accepted the microphone from Mayor Meer to wholly agree with his colleague, and to offer his praise for the precedent that the partnership was setting throughout the area at large.
“The days of thinking of your individual community as a unique part of the world just don’t exist anymore,” Mayor Krentz asserted. “The partnership that exists between the two cities is dynamic and wonderful to see, because when we help each other, that’s fantastic to the entire county. And we’re just getting started.”