Job growth, Fitness Fridays, teamwork make LaPorte great

2013-03-03T00:00:00Z 2013-05-29T14:47:32Z Job growth, Fitness Fridays, teamwork make LaPorte greatBy Blair Milo nwitimes.com
March 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

LAPORTE | We’re fortunate in LaPorte to have so many great things to brag about that it’s tough to pick just a few. I can’t tell you how excited I am when I meet new people and get to tell them all about what’s happening in our community. It truly is one of my favorite topics!

We had a great year in 2012, and 2013 is already proving just as exciting with job growth, community pride and cooperation.

When talking about what’s right in LaPorte, the most exciting trends are developing in our industry and business market with the extremely positive levels of capital investment and job growth. Last year marked an exhilarating time in economic development all over LaPorte County, and the trend is continuing.

We were thrilled to celebrate the expansion of the Thomas Rose Industrial Park with Gov. Mitch Daniels at the end of September, when we added 137 acres of prime industrial space and the opportunity for both short- and long-haul rail service. The numbers speak for themselves. In less than six months since the announcement, we already have an additional $51.2 million in capital investment and 84 new jobs in the pipeline because of multiple local industries that have already relocated and expanded or others that will soon locate in the park.

Currently, there are a number of projects in discussion for possible location in the added area, and estimates project an additional 1,000 new jobs when the expansion is filled. None of these exciting projects would be possible without first, the savvy and visionary leadership among our industrial leaders, then the support of multiple government partners across the city, and finally the glue who brings them all together with determination, finesse and expertise, Bert Cook, executive director at the Greater LaPorte Economic Development Corp.

LaPorte was proud to partner with IU Health LaPorte Hospital and the LaPorte County YMCA to establish Fitness Fridays, where everyone in the community is invited to participate in a free community 5k walk/run outside the YMCA and City Hall every Friday afternoon from spring until fall.

With all of the exciting trends for our economic growth, it’s such a treat to gather as LaPorteans (current and those wishing they lived here) to celebrate not only those successes, but also the everyday strength built through the bonds of community.

The opportunity to exercise at the same time has almost become just an added bonus. Many Friday afternoons garner up to 250 participants who join me in a run or walk for whatever distance and pace they feel comfortable, and it’s such a fun event for people to meet folks from all over the area in a stress-free environment. The regular season of Fitness Fridays will start at 5:15 p.m. March 29 in front of the YMCA on Michigan Avenue.

Possibly the most important aspect allowing LaPorte to thrive, though, is the commitment to problem solving and teamwork prevalent in our industries, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and different city government entities. I feel so fortunate to work with such dedicated individuals across the city who are coming together to do whatever they can to make LaPorte even greater. While we don’t always agree on the details of every issue, each of our City Council members are devoted to making thoughtful decisions, and they take the initiative to receive feedback on ways they can be helpful.

The expansion of Thomas Rose Industrial Park was a direct result of private and public collaboration. Fitness Fridays is a showcase of how eager our businesses and nonprofits are to support community-oriented goals. Our faith-based groups are routinely working together to collectively serve many of the social needs of our community. This spirit of teamwork has provided a solid foundation to aggressively build our progress upon.

With the understanding that our individual success is exponentially compounded by our collective success, and a prioritization of achieving goals instead of rehashing old wounds, we experience a snowball effect of opportunity.

LaPorte’s culture of cooperation offers a breath of fresh air when the news of division elsewhere seems to bombard us. It provides us the opportunity to set the example for what can happen when we all work together by first finding common ground then building bridges from there.

In my State of the City address last year, I stated that great things are happening in our city, and great things are yet to come. This trend is continuing in LaPorte and across Northwest Indiana, and I can't wait to see the amazing things we’ll be able to build as a region this year!

Blair Milo is mayor of LaPorte. The opinions are the writer's.

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