One Region inspires leaders to think regionally and beyond their boundaries. It aims to get our communities to use the limited resources of tax money and time to maximize economic development and job creation.
According to a recent Certec study, there were a total of 13,908 jobs in Lake County in 2010 resulting from the expenditures made in the tourism and travel industry. This number represented 7 percent of all jobs in the county in 2010.
The DK Shifflet & Associates survey in 2006, shows the number of hospitality jobs created in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties was almost equivalent to Indianapolis. We have all been to Indy lately. I bet the readers of this column don’t see our industries as similar or as important, yet they are.
The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority promotes the communities of the South Shore in a unified fashion. Our partners range from the Chicago White Sox to Fair Oaks Farms to Blue Chip Casino to hotels in Valparaiso and Michigan City. Through promotion of area attractions, we work with hundreds of partners from five Indiana counties and three states for one purpose: to increase the economic impact of tourism and jobs.
We have worked to develop and grow the South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail. By partnering with the Calumet Region Civil War Preservation Project we created the trail to commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial. The group consists of private businesses, local historians, cemetery administrators and veterans' descendants. Nine cemeteries in Lake and Porter counties are using state-of-the-art QR technology to tell the stories of Hoosier history and family sacrifice. Visitors from all across America have experienced this new attraction.
Because of our regional leadership, we are able to bring events like the National Softball Association Girls World Series “B” Softball tournament to the South Shore. This event was played July 23-28 on fields in three counties with hotel rooms booked in five counties. There were 243 teams with 3,500-plus room nights booked through the SSCVA housing system, resulting in more than $400,000 in direct hotel spending. The end result was an estimated economic impact of $1.1 million. Based on room nights, this event was the single biggest hospitality event in the history of Northwest Indiana. The 10,000 guests we hosted viewed us as “one region.”
In economic times like these, nontraditional alliances are emerging and must continue to help grow the region. Regionalism is vital to our future and requires bold leadership. The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will continue to lead the region’s hospitality industry by maximizing visitor dollars. We will continue to aggressively market the region and bring new meeting, sport events and convention business to the area, thus creating even more jobs.
Speros Batistatos is president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.