The Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation (GLEDC) and Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, Indiana (EDCMC) celebrated ten years of their "unique partnership" in retaining and expanding business in La Porte County Thursday night at Pottawattomie Country Club.
The event, which served as both a recap of the accomplishments over the last three years in the cities of Michigan City and La Porte and a kickoff to the next phase of the partnership, which will occur over the next three years.
"Most of the people here tonight are with companies that have contributed to the campaign over the last three years, and this is a great opportunity for us to show them the results of their investments," said GLEDC Executive Director Bert Cook. "This is all driven by both Mayors (Ron Meer and Blair Milo), who work closely with us and the EDCMC to make the County better-run overall.”
La Porte Mayor Blair Milo pointed out that 1,123 new jobs had been created and 955 retained since the beginning of the previous GLEDC-EDCMC campaign in 2011. In all, $156,763,000 has been put into new investments and 163 retention visits had been made between her and Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer.
“Businesses are the lifeblood of our community, and this symbiotic relationship is important to the growth of both communities,” Milo said.
Examples of expansion in La Porte since 2011 include moving ahead with the NewPorte landing project and an expansion of Thomas Rose Industrial Park. Showman Supplies has also been responsible for 12 new jobs in La Porte through a relocation and expansion.
Meer also thanked the investors, saying the partnership has helped create an environment that will “make you want to expand here.”
Examples of recent expansion in Michigan City include the creation of 20 new jobs through a $1.3 million investment from IU Health that added 30,000 square feet to an already large area they occupied and the addition of LifeWorks Business Park (near I-94 and U.S. 421), which was the result of a strong partnership between Indiana University Health and Holladay Properties.
Clarence Hulse, executive director of the EDCMC, said that while both Michigan City and La Porte are investing heavily in their downtown areas because “the young people here want to remain here and raise their kids here,” both the EDCMC and GLEDC are pro-La Porte County, focusing on bringing jobs to both the cities and unincorporated areas.
“As the economy turns around, we at EDCMC are going to focus on housing and making sure there are more options for middle- to-upper income housing in Michigan City,” he said.
A brochure will be sent to about 300 companies, including the 62 that contributed to the previous campaign, said Bob Schaefer, president of Community Dynamics, who has helped spearhead the partnership between GLEDC and EDCMC.
Following a question and answer session for Cook and Hulse, Schaefer asked impromptu “who is in” to the 125 business leaders in attendance Thursday, noting that the goal for the next campaign is $400,000, slightly more than what was raised over the last three years.
“We are in - we are definitely in,” said Tom Edwards, representing Horizon Bank.
“And we are in too,” shouted Don Bakbcock, director of economic development at NIPSCO before presenting a check to the EDCMC and GLEDC for $25,000.