The 14th Annual Portage Community and Business Night was held at Woodland Park in Portage this Thursday night to bring together organizations, nonprofits, and local businesses for a night of networking, community connections, and prizes.
The expo was hosted by the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce and welcomed over 70 local businesses and organizations from around the City of Portage and Northwest Indiana. The annual event is an effective way for businesses to strengthen their connections with other businesses, organizations, and with the people of the Portage community.
“This is our 14th year hosting the expo and it’s a great way for people in the community to come out and see what all of our local businesses in Portage are all about,” said Nancy Simpson, Executive Director for the Portage Chamber of Commerce. “We’re here to support and help promote businesses, whether it’s through advertising, sponsorships, or, of course, expos like this one, and let them know we’re here for them.”
Attendees were greeted by great weather and friendly faces eager to answer any and all questions. Representatives from each business and organization highlighted the services and products offered, reaching the goal that the expo strives for every year: making connections.
1st Source Bank works tirelessly for all of Northwest Indiana. The local bank is always striving for more connections in the community where it started and with the people who helped make what 1st Source Bank is today.
“This expo really gives us the opportunity to come out in front of the community and share our services and our story with people of the Portage market,” said Jerry Del Real, Banking Center Manager for 1st Source Bank. “We’re a local bank, so part of our mission is to give back to the community and make sure we have a strong community presence so they know we are they to assist and be there for them.”
Karin Woodside, Community Outreach Specialist for Saint Mary Medical Center shared similar beliefs for the expo and the community.
“We care a lot about the health of the Portage community,” Woodside said. “We are based in Hobart, but Saint Mary has expanded to all around Northwest Indiana and in Portage, we have two health centers that offer diagnostics, physicians, labs, outpatient rehab, and much more. We’re really invested in the health and well-being of the community and we want help raise awareness through any way we can.”
General Insurance Services was one of the newcomers welcomed to the expo Thursday, and Marija Ramon, Commercial Insurance Agent for GIS, was excited to meet knew people in the community.
“We love meeting new people, getting to know them, and seeing if there is anything we can do to help them,” Ramon said. “So we like to reach out to people and let them know who we are and what we do.”
REGIONAL Federal Credit Union is a veteran of the expo and has been in attendance every year to highlight what they do and how important the credit union is to the community.
“We’re part of the business community,” said Irma Torres, Vice President of Branch Development and Business Banking. “We want to be out here letting our members know, not just what our members are doing for us, but what we are doing for them.”
Judy Kukelka, Senior Lifestyle Counselor for Rittenhouse Village of Portage, eagerly anticipated the chance to be able to network with and show support for other businesses around Portage.
“This expo gives us the chance to network within the community, highlight some of our services, and it gets us in front of other business that we can get to know and maybe partner with for future events,” Kukelka said. “And it’s important for us to show our support for the community because the community supports us as well.”
Horizon Bank has been in attendance of the Portage Community and Business Night since the very beginning and their support for local businesses never waivers.
“One of our standards at Horizon is to be involved in the community,” said Mike Sarver, AVP Branch Manager for Horizon Bank. “So the most important thing about today is coming out and showing our support for Portage businesses.”
Porter-Starke Services has decades of experience serving the Portage community and for several years now, the mental health center has brought that expertise to the annual expo to spread the word.
“Porter-Starke has over 40 years of experience in the Portage and Northwest Indiana communities and it’s really great to see and network with other businesses and members of the public so we can share who we are and what kinds of services we offer,” said Elliott Miller, Director of Marketing and Development for the local non-for-profit.
Scott McCray, Registered Sleep Polysomnographer for Porter Regional Hospital, attends expos similar to the Portage Community and Business Night all year long for the hospital, and every one is a great opportunity to raise awareness and make connections with the community.
“Expos like this are really great because we can reach out to the public and answer questions that they may have,” McCary said. “We can show everyone that we have a personal interest in their well-being.”
Jacob’s Ladder of Portage is a non-for-profit that supports children with special needs in the community. The event Thursday night is a perfect annual tradition to forge new relationships with other local businesses and organizations. “Business to business is a wonderful way to spread the news of the services we provide and also to develop business partnerships,” said Mariann Frigo, Executive Director of Jacob’s Ladder. “All of the children we help are a part of this community, so we to be where they are so we can encourage parents and their child who may have special needs to be a part of the community.”
Connections and new relationships were made at he 14th Annual Portage Community and Business Night. The goal every year is to continue to build and strengthen the Portage business community; it is safe to say that the Portage Chamber of Commerce met and surpassed that goal.
For more information about the Portage Chamber of Commerce, please visit to www.portageinchamber.com.