Northwest Indiana Forum Helped Secure 2,400+ Jobs

Northwest Indiana Forum Helped Secure 2,400+ Jobs

The Northwest Indiana Forum held their annual meeting as a hybrid in-person event at Sand Creek Country Club and with a virtual live stream of the presentations. The organization highlighted its successes in 2020 and elected 11 business leaders to serve on its Managing Board of Directors.

Kicking off the Forum’s 40th anniversary in 2020, the Forum was able to host 4 in-person events including the three regionally based Economic Development Boot Camps, where more than 100 people including 66 local appointed or elected officials participated. When COVID turned the world upside down in March and in-person meetings became impossible; the Forum successfully pivoted to virtual networking platforms to keep our businesses informed on the important issues. The Forum Zoom Series included 22 virtual events reaching over 1100 participants. Guest speakers included U.S. Senators Mike Braun and Todd Young, Indiana State Secretary Jim Schellinger, Secretary of Destination Development Elaine Bedel, hospital CEO’s and organizations to helping to guide Northwest Indiana businesses through difficult times.

The Forum also worked alongside our region’s elected officials to keep meaningful incentives engaged for future development.

Other 2020 accomplishments include:

  • Participated with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and local economic development organizations, elected officials and the state in a variety projects helping to attract over $254 million in new investment, bringing 2,433 jobs with an average wage of $24.90 per hour to Northwest Indiana. This wage is above each of the region’s seven counties average wage. The Northwest Indiana Forum is currently working on 20 leads for attraction or business expansion/retention in Northwest Indiana.
  • Ignite the Region is continuing to make progress. We have 88% of the 5-year plan in process or complete in just two years. 2021 will be a year to revisit those priorities and start to define additional work that needs to be done. We have launched new marketing material, strengthened site selector relationships through virtual meetings and conferences, and engaged in a brownfield development strategy with NIRPC and the RDA.
  • The Forum has welcomed 4 new investors and continues to cultivate new prospects.
  • Enthusiastically represented Northwest Indiana on numerous regional, state, national and international boards and commissions.
  • The Forum continues to be the voice of business in Northwest Indiana with continued lobbying efforts on behalf of our membership on international, national, state and local legislative policies that impact the region both in business and environment.
  • The organization will also continue to work with brokers, developers, consultants and site selectors to ensure Northwest Indiana remains in the spotlight for business development.

“Amidst a year of trials and uncertainty, Northwest Indiana managed to outperform 2019 metrics.” said Heather Ennis, Forum President & CEO. “We look forward to working more closely with our regional partners, maybe even face-to-face, in 2021 to continue to build on that success.”

New Forum Managing Board members include:

  • Justin Mount of Indiana America Water and Matt Gower with Carmeuse Lime and Stone
  • Nine members were re-elected to three-year terms: Dave Bareham, Enbridge; Brian Hittinger, Krieg DeVault; Chancellor Tom Keonn, Purdue University Northwest; Richard Leverett, AT&T; Dean Mazzoni, Franciscan Health Michigan City; Kathryn Jenkins, Horseshoe Casino; Lori Tubbs, McColly Bennett Commercial Advantage; Michael Helsdingen, First Midwest Bank; and Erica Dombey, Regional Development Company
  • Joining the board in 2020 as new faces to existing seats are: Chancellor Ken Iwama, Indiana University Northwest and Tony Kazakevicius, Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad.

The Northwest Indiana Forum is a non-profit, privately funded regional environmental and economic development organization, comprised of regional business leaders, serving Northwest Indiana. Funded by membership contributions and grants, Forum membership translates into a direct investment in the region.

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