New leader tapped for NWI Forum

2014-03-03T11:15:00Z 2014-03-03T18:34:09Z New leader tapped for NWI ForumJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

A new leader will take the reins at the Northwest Indiana Forum, a privately funded economic development agency.

Heather Ennis will take over as president and chief executive officer in April. She is the first woman to lead the organization, which aims to promote business investment and job creation throughout the region.

"Heather brings an excellent set of skills to the position," said Jill Ritchie, Northwest Indiana Forum Board Chair. "We look forward to her leadership in carrying out the forum's mission to foster a positive business climate and attract investment and quality jobs in harmony with the environment."

A search committee recommended Ennis based on her experience with organizational operations, capital investments, community partnerships, and business attraction and retention. She most recently served as executive director of Chesterton-based Duneland Chamber of Commerce, where she increased membership by 88 percent in five years.

Ennis, who also was president of the Duneland Economic Development Co., was responsible for economic development in the lakefront towns of Beverly Shores, Burns Harbor, Chesterton, Dune Acres and Porter.

She played an integral role in business attraction and retention projects, including luring Urschel Laboratories' new $104 million corporate headquarters to Chesterton. The Purdue University graduate also serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Northwest Indiana Forum Economic Development Committee, the Porter County Economic Development Alliance, the Porter County Jobs Cabinet and the United Way of Porter County.

She said her passion for economic development stems from her wish to raise her family in Northwest Indiana and to strengthen the region for the next generation.

"I am honored to be selected for this position and look forward to working with the board, members and staff in moving the organization and Northwest Indiana forward," Ennis said. "This is an amazing opportunity to build upon the many accomplishments of the forum."

She replaces Mark Maassel, who resigned in October so he could become vice president of the Indiana Energy Association, a utility trade group based in Indianapolis.

The Northwest Indiana Forum has more than 125 members, and serves Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Starke, Jasper, Newton and Pulaski counties.

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