The Porter County Jobs Cabinet laid out initiatives to promote job growth in
Porter County exactly 400 days ago and County Commissioner President John
Evans, R-North, on Tuesday expressed frustration that the County Council has
not yet taken any action.
Evans said the jobs cabinet provided a road map of where Porter County
Government could utilize its resources and build partnerships between the
private and public sectors in trying to make the county the “leading
location for job opportunities in Indiana and the Chicago marketplace.”
Quoting what Jobs Cabinet facilitator Bill Hanna told the Commissioners at
their Dec. 18, 2012, meeting, Evans said the plan would make the private
sector aware that the County is “in the business of bringing businesses in”
and that the only way to do that is to follow through with the plan’s
The Cabinet, made up of public officials and business leaders, identified
industries with the best potential for growth. The leading category was
healthcare, followed by the steel industry and information technology. They
also recommended implementing aggressive marketing, revamping
transportation, land planning and expanding infrastructure.
The effort was a joint project between the County Commissioners, Valparaiso
Mayor Jon Costas and Portage Mayor James Snyder.
The process was funded with $75,000 from the County and $25,000 from the
Hanna at the December 2012 meeting said he would ask to be on the County
Council’s agenda to present the initiatives, but Evans said the Council
never did make time to hear the presentation.
Evans worries that prospective businesses will pass on setting up shop in
“What kind of message is this sending to the private sector? It is sending
the message Porter County Government is not a reliable partner. It is
sending the message that we don’t follow through. Counties around us who are
competitors for business growth are actively and successfully working
together as reliable business partners, yet our County Council won’t even
hear an hour long presentation,” he said.
Instead of turning their attention to the Jobs Cabinet recommendations,
Evans contended that Council members have been “relentlessly focused” on
other matters, like the falling property tax revenues and slow growth in
county CEDIT income tax revenues.
Evans argued the best way to increase and diversify the County’s commercial
tax base would be to bring new businesses to Porter County.
“To increase CEDIT revenues without a tax increase, the best way is to
reduce our 6.9 percent unemployment rate, get our citizens working again,
and get CEDIT revenues growing again,” he said.
Evans said the Commissioners have taken a few actions on their own to
invigorate the jobs market here, such as the establishing a sports tourism
group and a County Redevelopment Commission.
He also said the board is working with the Indiana Department of
Transportation on a study of extending Willowcreek Road, in Portage, to U.S.
30, creating a second north and south route through the county.
Evans also echoed Hanna’s comments to Council members that now is the time
for the County to “get in front of the pack” as Porter County is better
poised for success than its neighbors given its diverse assets.
Along with Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, Evans requested that the
County Council consider scheduling a special meeting to hear and discuss the
Jobs Cabinet plan, separate from the hospital proceeds endowment meeting
(see related story).