Those who want to learn more about what local companies in Portage have to offer should make it their business to attend the 13th Annual Portage Community and Business Night. Sponsored by the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce and open to the public, it takes place on April 21, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Woodland Park, 2100 Willowcreek Road.
The purpose of the evening is to give the public the opportunity to interact with local businesses and to highlight goods and services available in Portage. Included will be more than 100 vendors, music from local entertainers, raffles, door prizes, giveaways and more. Adult admission is $2; ages five and under are free. Entry fee includes five tickets for five samples of food from a selection of ten local restaurants (extra food tickets are 5 for $2).
The Portage Community and Business Night is ideal for local businesses, as it provides a forum for showcasing their company to the public and promotes networking with other businesses. Last year, about 800 people attended, which generated a great deal of exposure. There is still time to sign up for a booth; all local businesses are welcome and a discount is available for Chamber members.
Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber includes up to 370 member businesses, offering exciting programs and events, partnerships with local entities and a newly designed website. There’s also Nancy Simpson, the brand new executive director, who moved up the ranks of the Chamber bringing myriad new and creative ideas to help promote local businesses.
Simpson says that membership is predominantly comprised of businesses located in Portage, but there are some others, such as NIPSCO and Indiana American Water Company. She adds that the Chamber works to benefit both the local businesses and the community, a veritable win-win situation. “Our mission is to support our community and enhance growth, connections and opportunities in a business-friendly environment for new and existing members,” Simpson says. “Our vision is to be recognized as a premier resource that is integral to the success of our business community.”
Available networking events are the Chamber’s annual golf outing, monthly luncheons at Woodland Park, MidWeek Mingles, Rise Shine & Share, and the annual awards banquet, which recognizes new, improved and humanitarian businesses, as well as special events, the volunteer of the year, outstanding public citizen and more.
The Chamber has partnered with Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) to offer members educational opportunities, such as courses in QuickBooks, launching a business and social media.
Sponsorship opportunities for local businesses are many, Simpson says. “We’re partnering with the Gary SouthShore RailCats and offering free tickets to a game on June 6, with tickets available at the Chamber office on April 15.” She adds that sponsorships are available for Music in the Park (free summer concerts held on Tuesday nights) and sponsorships are requested for the Chamber golf outing on June 17. The Chamber’s gift certificate program offers members the opportunity to sponsor a gift certificate, which is available to the general public for purchase and then it may be redeemed at the Chamber member’s business.
The Chamber will also be joining with other organizations for a Jeep Fest on June 18 at the Best Western Hotel, and partnering with Rittenhouse Senior Living to sponsor a car show in August. “The proceeds go to the Chamber,” Simpson explains. “It’s also a nice event for the seniors at Rittenhouse who can come out and enjoy it.”
Simpson says they want to hold at least one progressive dinner this year and will partner with a limo company for that event. She also is very proud of the Chamber’s new website, which will be advantageous to both members and the general public.
Simpson knows that promoting local businesses helps the local economy and strengthens the community. “We’re trying to be as innovative as possible and serve our community well,” Simpson says. “We’re looking to grow our membership in 2016.”