HAMMOND │ If members of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce were unfamiliar with the Northwest Indiana Forum, they aren’t anymore if they attended the chamber’s general membership luncheon Wednesday at Dynasty Banquets.
Forum President/CEO Heather Ennis; Donald Koliboski, director of regional economic development; Karen Lauerman, director of marketing and communications; and Kay Nelson, director of environmental affairs, discussed regional economic development
“We are the welcome mat for Northwest Indiana,” Ennis said.
The forum is a privately funded economic development group that is backed by more than 130 local members, mostly businesses. The agency works to increase the broadbased wealth of the region by encouraging growth, economic innovation and the retention of quality jobs.
“If a company or organization is looking to locate in Northwest Indiana, we’re a great place for them to start,” Ennis said.
Ennis said the Forum is the voice for Northwest Indiana business and likes to be the coordinating force to help all the communities work well together and advocate and speak out on public policy for its members.
Koliboski said the Forum is a catalyst for economic development.
“We hold monthly economic development meetings and bring in experts who promote education and best practices in the economic development process,” he said. “We provide training and more importantly we provide the tools necessary for communities to succeed in this practice.”
Koliboski said the Forum also facilitates communication between its partners, which consist of local economic development organizations and regional and state organizations.
“The Forum is the catalyst in bringing all these ideas and all these groups together so we’re all on the same page and that’s promoting growth in Indiana,” he said.
Nelson spoke of the water resource and Brownfield redevelopment aspects of the Forum, while Lauerman said she has the best job because it consists of “promoting Northwest Indiana.”
“We work with our members to help them market their organization,” she said. “We offer educational programming, we’re an information resource and we try to create value-added opportunities. We offer media and issue support and networking and special events.”