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'We'll come back stronger,' Valpo mayor tells struggling businesses
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'We'll come back stronger,' Valpo mayor tells struggling businesses

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Harley-Davidson of Valparaiso is using the current COVID-19 situation to try to drum up some business.

VALPARAISO — The COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on the local businesses, with some temporarily closing and/or laying off employees, Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy told chamber members Monday morning.

"I do want to emphasize, however, that we will get out of this," he said during a teleconference call. "We'll come back stronger. Normalcy will return to our community."

"Right now we need leaders to remain calm and focused on how we can get through this."

Indiana governor orders Hoosiers to stay home until April 7, except for essential needs

Murphy announced the city is enacting a hiring freeze and is limiting non-critical spending in anticipation of weathering the uncertain financial times ahead. It is likely, he said, that the county will be postponing the deadline for the first round of property tax payments until possibly July, which will impact the city and other taxing units.

The city is focusing on maintaining essential services, such as police, fire, utilities and public works, he said. City hall remains open by appointment only and services such as issuing building permits and carrying out inspections are ongoing.

"Obviously this is a fluid situation, so that can change," Murphy said.

Murphy reveals plans for Valparaiso in first State of the City address

Mayor Matt Murphy gives his first State of the City address Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Valparaiso University’s Harre Union.

While essential public meetings will go on, the public is strongly discouraged from attending out of concern of spreading the coronavirus, he said. There is a conference call option for public participation and an online video link is in the works.

The city is doing what it can to help local restaurants and bars, which were the first to "take it on the chin" by being forced to close to in-house business because of the pandemic, he said.

Special parking has been designated for carryout service at those businesses and Murphy encouraged chamber members and the public to help these businesses survive by purchasing meals.

"The community is stepping up," he said of the response.

The city is also looking at its zoning laws to see what can be done to help businesses further and prepare to expedite projects for contractors once the pandemic eases, Murphy said.

The city has also attempted to ease the impact of the pandemic on local residents by waiving late fees and shutoffs for city utilities, he said.

13 Region COVID-19 cases confirmed; 259 statewide

Local bus services have been curtailed.

Area businesses that have supplies of N95 masks can do their part by donating them to area healthcare providers, Murphy said.

"If businesses have those N95 masks, they are welcome at Porter (Regional) Hospital," he said.

"Hang in there," Murphy told local business leaders. "We're all in this together. Valparaiso is going to come out stronger in the future."

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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