HAMMOND │ The Northwest Indiana Forum said it had an “outstanding” year in 2013 and accomplished much to attract and retain quality jobs and capital investment, as well as foster a positive business climate and address key environmental issues in the seven-county area.
At Horseshoe Casino Thursday the Forum recapped 2013 during its annual meeting.
The Forum last year responded to more than 175 site selection leads, primarily in manufacturing, transportation, distribution and logistics, followed by food, life sciences and energy.
Forum Director of Marketing and Communications Karen Lauerman said the organization answered more than 2,000 requests for information – everything from general inquires to cost comparison and tax analysis.
“We anticipate an even more active 2014 as evidence by a very busy January and we are seeing an uptick in the economy,” she said.
Lauerman said the Forum believes in building and improving infrastructure for the future and continues to engage and support efforts such as the expansion of the South Shore commuter rail line.
In 2013 Forum members were invited to more than 22 networking sessions, programs and special events.
Lauerman said 2013 was another full year of trade shows, conferences, special receptions and events as well as advertising, article placement and regional marketing.
“2014 promises to be another year of touting Northwest Indiana as the best place to establish expand or relocate their businesses,” she said.
The Forum also provided an update on its search for a new executive director after Mark Maassel left in October to become vice president of the Indiana Energy Association, a utility trade group based in Indianapolis.
Jill Ritchie, chairwoman of the Forum managing board of directors, said the Forum has evaluated resumes and conducted phone interviews and are moving into the in-person interview stage.
“We have a number of really good candidates,” she said.
Ritchie said the organization expects an announcement or a new director in place by the second quarter of this year.
“In the interim the staff of the forum continues to move the organization forward,” she said.
With more than 125 member organizations, the Forum's mission is to increase the broad-based wealth in Northwest Indiana through economic development.
The Forum also re-elected its managing board of directors and welcomed Heather Ennis, executive director of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, as a new board member.
The following board members were re-elected:
- Ron Bush, DRD
- Rob Crookston, Microbac Labs
- Andrew Fox, South Shore Freight
- Erica Dombey, Regional Development Co.
- Jim Jorgensen, Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans
- Pete Novak, Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors
- Matt Reardon, S E H
- Joe Coar, Tonn & Blank
- George Douglas, Indiana Beverage)
- Linda Woloshansky, Center of Workforce Innovations)
- James Dworkin, Purdue North Central
- Cal Bellamy, Krieg DeVault
- Michael Wortham, Enbridge
- Gene Diamond, Franciscan Alliance
- Danita Johnson Hughes, Edgewater Systems
- Bill Nangle, The Times Media Co.
- Daniel Nita, Horseshoe Casino
- Craig Pratt, Fifth Third Bank)
- Charles Weaver, Starke County ED Foundation
- Bill Wellman, Whiteco
- Don Babcock, NIPSCO
- Speros Batistatos, South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority
- Larry Fabina, ArcelorMittal
- Jeff Burgoyne, First Midwest Bank
- Tom Keilman, BP
- Dewey Pearman, Construction Advancement Foundation
- Jill Ritchie, United States Steel Corp.
- Mike Lisac, Chase
- John Diederich, Peoples Bank