Governor Mike Pence Addresses Economic Development, New Initiatives at La Porte Chamber Luncheon

Governor Mike Pence paid a visit to Northwest Indiana on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 to talk about the state’s economic achievements to the members of the La Porte business community during the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce's October Luncheon.

Pence began his keynote address by citing the state's dropping unemployment rate, strong sense of fiscal responsibility, and tax cuts as a few of the reasons that have Indiana as the 2nd fastest growing manufacturing job base in the nation.

“Here, in a county with employers like Alcoa, Jaeger, I am happy to report to all of you that Indiana has led the nation once again in manufacturing job growth with over 25,600 new, good-paying manufacturing jobs in the state of Indiana,” explained Pence. “That means great opportunities here in La Porte, here in the county, and all over the state.”

Pence championed the morning’s announcement of the A.K. Smith Center teaming up with NIPSCO to start a new "Energy Academy" training service to students to help them better prepare for manufacturing jobs with technical and hands-on training.

“We are the first state in America to make career and vocational education a priority in every community in Indiana, and it’s happening right here in La Porte, Indiana,” explained Pence. “The best example [of the partnership between business and education] started today. The new partnership between NIPSCO and the La Porte County Career & Technical Education Center is the first of its kind in Indiana it’s going to be a model for the rest of the state.

Pence also touched on the recent achievements in La Porte like the Jaeger Unitek expansion and most notably, the Alcoa Howmet expansion that was announced earlier this year.

“I want to thank the bipartisan leadership in La Porte and in Michigan City, the regional emphasis on economic development,” said Pence. “Alcoa, the global aerospace manufacturer's expansion will lead to 320 new jobs, and the most advanced aerospace manufacturing plant in the world will be located right here.”

Mayor Blair Milo was also at the A.K. Smith Center announcement this morning, noting the benefits of the program as it pertains to getting students currently enrolled in high school ready to work the second they’ve graduated.

“It has been an exciting day in La Porte to have Governor Pence in La Porte to highlight the exciting endeavors at the La Porte County Career and Technical Education Center with the new Energy Academy that NIPSCO has helped sponsor. The message he was bringing forward is really an important one about the critical nature of career and technical education. I don’t know if everyone recognizes the different types of career opportunities available there and the types of training pipelines that exist. We’re working to increase access to those opportunities,” explained Milo.

Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Bert Cook also was thrilled to see the Governor’s announcement today.

“It was great to see the governor reaffirming his support for career and technical readiness, which is great for us in La Porte County to better equip our kids with the skills they need to support our workforce, be a part of that workforce, or further their education,” said Cook.

<p>La Porte Chamber President MIke Seitz credits the teamwork between the city and organizations like GLEDC as reasons for the “improving” economic climate in La Porte.

“It was an honor to have the governor here today to talk about economic development and technical education,” explained Seitz. “He was here three years ago and made a promise to make that a priority, so to see today’s announcement, it was real privilege.”

He continued, “The business environment is improving in La Porte. We’ve got a great economic team in Bert (Cook) and GLEDC, and the Mayor and Chamber all work together to provide great economic services.”

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