Economic development group outlines goals for coming year

2012-12-08T18:45:00Z 2012-12-08T19:46:07Z Economic development group outlines goals for coming yearJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The Portage Economic Development Corp. will focus next year on educating its membership about economic development.

"Most of the strength of our community comes from within our community," incoming PEDCO executive board President Fred McNulty told some 200 people gathered recently for the group's annual meeting.

The group will provide its members educational opportunities to help boost economic growth in the city, he said. In addition, McNulty said PEDCO will focus on website development and membership growth.

McNulty will replace Diane Thalmann in 2013. Thalmann has led the group for the last two years and will remain on its executive board as past president.

Others on the executive board for 2013 are E. Ric Frataccia, superintendent of Portage Township Schools, as vice president; Craig Menne, General Insurance Services, as secretary; and Tim Warner, Centier Bank, as treasurer.

New board members include Mike Sarver, of Horizon Bank; Mike Micka, of Holladay Properties; Carl Simpson, of Monosol; and Bridget Farkas, of Portage Electric Supply Co.

PEDCO Executive Director Jim Fitzer spent much of 2012 working on its brand, creating a new logo and working on business retention and expansion.

Fitzer said 2012 saw a $15 million investment in the city by Ratner Steel; a $7.5 million expansion by Indiana Pickling and Processing; the addition of Phoenix Services at the Port of Indiana, adding 80 jobs; and Manufacturing Solutions International's acquisition of Graphic Packaging International and move into a 157,000-square-foot facility on U.S. 20.

In the retail sector, he said, 2012 brought the acquisition by Meijer of the former Kmart building and the construction of Panda Express and Texas Roadhouse restaurants. The year also brought the announcement of a new Family Express location on U.S. 6.

Fitzer said 2012 was an "extremely productive" year for the city and that the commission, along with its partners, is working on active leads in several areas, including along U.S. 20, at the Northside Business Park and within AmeriPlex at the Port.

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