Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr. holds an open, honest conversation during Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s Annual State of the City Luncheon

Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr. holds an open, honest conversation during Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce’s Annual State of the City Luncheon

Every year, the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce holds a luncheon in the City of Hammond and invites Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr. to share recent happenings and upcoming goals for the City. On Wednesday, February 8, the chamber held its largest luncheon yet. Over 300 people including chamber members, elected officials, city council members, and Mayor McDermott himself gathered to celebrate all the good happening in Hammond, both now and in the future. 

Like all good luncheons, the event started with networking. As people stood in line to grab a plate of food they chatted with one another, shook hands, gave hugs, and exchanged plenty of business cards. It was a great way for community members to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. 

“We represent both large businesses and small businesses in Northwest Indiana, so this is just a great opportunity for people to socialize and get to meet people they normally wouldn’t get to meet,” said Jeff Williams, chairman of the board for the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. 

City of Hammond State of the City 2023

City of Hammond State of the City 2023 94 Photos
City of Hammond State of the City 2023City of Hammond State of the City 2023City of Hammond State of the City 2023City of Hammond State of the City 2023

What truly made the luncheon unique, though, is how eager everyone was to get out and engage with one another. Since COVID-19, many people have been more hesitant during larger social gatherings; it was uplifting to see how enthusiastic and positive everyone was. 

“I really think it’s a good sign that people are starting to come out of hibernation. They’re starting to come out and enjoy one another again. I don’t see many masks in the room and it’s just amazing to see that people are feeling comfortable again,” said Williams. 

After everyone finished their meals, McDermott took the stage. He started his State of the City address by thanking the Hammond City Council for uniting behind a common goal and easily coming together with him to make Hammond an even better place. 

“There are hardly any contested races, and it’s not because people aren’t interested. It’s because people are happy with what’s going on right now and we all have a common goal. When we make a promise to a business we fulfill that promise. We keep in mind who our bosses are, which are all of you who are sitting in the audience right now. I can’t say thank you enough to the Hammond City Council--I couldn’t have been Mayor for 20 years without them,” said McDermott. 

Different from many other State of the City events, McDermott didn’t just dive into a speech. Dave Ryan, executive director of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, asked the mayor specific questions about different things happening within the city. The event was less of a presentation and more of a conversation. 

“I like to throw questions out there and he answers them. He’s not afraid to answer tough questions or big questions or little questions,” said Ryan. 

McDermott answered all kinds of questions about what improvements are being made in Hammond. He spoke about how there are currently $385 million in projects on the books to help improve the city. He also explained that Congressman Frank Mrvan secured $53 million for Hammond, and since then they’ve already allocated 95% of it towards the city. 

“I wasn’t going to give it away in bonuses. I wasn’t going to plug huge holes in the budget with it. I said if they’re going to give us $53 million we’re going to spend it on the City of Hammond because the city needs it,” said McDermott. 

McDermott also spoke about his goals moving forward. He explained how he is trying to create more parking downtown and is brainstorming ways to slow downtown traffic so it can be safer for people to walk around and enjoy themselves. 

Overall, everyone enjoyed listening to McDermott speak. He was honest and open and made the entire room break into laughter more than once. He closed his speech by sharing how committed he is to being mayor and how driven he is in making Hammond an even greater city. 

“I’m never going to be content as your mayor. When I’m done being mayor, there are still going to be 20 things that I want to get done and I’m just not going to be able to do it. I will never be able to say Hammond is perfect because there will always be something I can work on to make the city better. That’s who I am and that’s why I love being mayor--I’m always ready to start the next project,” said McDermott. 

Everyone was grateful to be part of such a wonderful event and left feeling even more hopeful about Hammond’s future. If this year’s luncheon was any sign, next year’s luncheon is sure to be even greater. 

“Thank you all very much. Thank you to all of our sponsors--there are so many of you and we couldn’t do this without you. Also, thank you to all of our members for coming out and supporting this. This has been a great lunch and I’m looking forward to the next one,” said Ryan. 

To learn more about the City of Hammond, visit gohammond.com