2018 was a historic year for the city of Portage. In just one year, Portage acquired 7 new businesses, creating some 350 job opportunities for its citizens. On December 5, Portage Economic Development Corporation hosted their annual meeting, where they celebrated this success and much more.
Portage EDC board members and partners from the business community gathered at Sycamore Hall in Woodland Park in Portage to enjoy lunch, network, review the year’s achievements, and look forward to achievements to come.
Representatives from partners and sponsors like NIPSCO, Porter Health Care System, NorthShore Health Centers, St. Mary Medical Center, 1st Source Bank, Ivy Tech, Holladay Properties, and Portage Township School Corporation enjoyed meeting and mingling.
"We love to get our members together and celebrate what’s happened in the city over the year,” said Amy Parker, Business Development Manager for Portage EDC. “Our members are the backbone of everything we’ve accomplished. We have outgoing and ingoing board members here today, and it’s always fun to see the transition of people and the new ideas that come our way—where will 2019 bring our way? It’s an unknown, and that is an exciting thing.”
Parker was especially excited to shed light on the 7 new businesses Portage acquired, one of them a gelatin product company called Gelnex that was just approved by the Portage Chamber the previous night.
“Today will be the first time anybody has heard their name,” Parker said. “I’m very excited to be able to say that we have 7 new companies in one year—that’s unheard of. Sometimes, you’re lucky to get one! The amount of jobs and the investment opportunity they’re going to bring to Portage…it’s going to be amazing.”
The 6 other businesses Portage acquired this year are MCP USA, Voestalpine, Camaco, Powersource Transportation, President Tuxedo, and BNUTTY, a company that produces 15 different types of peanut butter.
“Portage has had a great year,” said Andy Maletta, Executive Director of Business Development. “That’s the great news we’re excited to share with all our partners in the business community today.”
In his address to the gathering, Maletta described the citizens of Portage as “hardworking individuals who get the job done.” He cited the continued growth and development of projects like Founder’s Square Promenade as ones placing the city on the map.
“Jobs and businesses come to cities where people want to live, and that’s Portage right now,” Maletta said.
Maletta said he and Portage EDC are “bullish” on 2019, too, but kept a tight lip on the details when pressed.
“I used to work for Indiana Beverage, and we used to say you don’t have it on tap until the beer flows,” he said.
Matthew Harris, Director of Accounting and Finance for MonoSol and incoming President of the Portage EDC Board of Directors, expressed his excitement at his new role in the organization.
“I’m looking forward to working with our board members; we brought on some good team members that are business leaders in the community and helping Portage continue to grow,” Harris said. “And our current president, Diane [Thalmann] from NIPSCO, has been great. She sits on many of these boards throughout the Region. She’ll be our lifeline as we’re learning the ropes.”
Simon Scholte, Director of Technical Operations at Aquestive Therapeutics and incoming Vice President of Portage ECD, described his passion for the Manufacturing 360 and Healthcare 360 programs they’ve created for high school students.
“[I love] providing an opportunity for kids to see that there’s more in their backyard. They have alternative options to going to college—not that going to college is bad, but we’ve got a lot of fantastic businesses and healthcare institutions that provide tremendous opportunity in the form of a career,” Scholte explained. “We’ve got great educational partners with Ivy Tech and Purdue, and manufacturers like myself. We’re growing by leaps and bounds, we need great talent, so connecting all of those in the future workforce is something I’m really passionate about.”
And other cities have started to take notice.
“Other towns and institutions within the state are coming to us and saying, ‘Hey, that program looks like it works. We’ve heard a lot of great things, we’ve heard feedback from counselors, we’ve heard feedback from the students—how do we do that?’ So we’re actually looking to put together a starter kit for other counties and other areas to help them successfully launch their own programs.”
Scholte gave the platform to some Portage High School students to talk about their own positive experiences with the program during the luncheon.
When Maletta unveiled a new slogan for the city, everyone agreed it was a keeper: “Proudly Portage.”