The Portage Economic Development Corporation successfully furthered its mission to support local business growth and development on Thursday, September 15 during its reception and tour of Ports of Indiana, Burns Harbor. People came out to enjoy some delicious food, mingle with different community members, and take a tour of Burns Harbor, one of Portage’s hidden gems.
Ports of Indiana, Burns Harbor is home to over 30 different companies, 15 of which are steel related. Many people don’t realize that something as beneficial and opportunistic as Burns Harbor exists in Portage. The Portage EDC held the event in hopes that more people would come and learn about this important asset.
“The purpose was just to get people exposed to the great asset that we have in the city,” said Andy Maletta, Executive Director of the Portage EDC.
About 30 people came out to participate in the event, and that number included a wide variety of people. Some attendees were EDC board members hoping to learn a little more, some were government officials who hadn’t gotten to see Burns Harbor in person before, and many people were members of different schools throughout Northwest Indiana who came to learn more about career paths for students who aren’t interested in going to college.
The event was about more than just learning, however. The event was also about bringing different members of the community together to get to know each other and make new connections. The EDC aimed to bring people together who may never have had a chance to meet otherwise.
“We’re all about business attraction, business expansion, business retention, but truthfully one of the things that we really do is networking because we know and are connected to so many different people that we can bring people together and get people working together that normally wouldn’t,” said Maletta.
New connections were definitely formed at the event. ‘It’s so nice to meet you’ and ‘I can’t wait to reach out to you’ were buzz phrases of the evening. Business cards were exchanged just as much as smiles. Maletta was excited by how many people walked away with new relationships and was proud of how successful the evening turned out.
“I think it went really well—our purpose and what we wanted to achieve actually happened. People were able to make those connections together,” said Maletta.
Portage EDC holds many networking events like these throughout the year. Maletta and Belstra’s favorite parts of these networking events are of course having fun, catching up with people, and meeting new faces. However, after the pandemic and Covid-19 restrictions that kept many events from happening, these events have become even more special.
“It’s like these events become reunions where you haven’t seen somebody in so long and now you get to connect and meet new people as well. There are new board members I’m still getting to know at Portage EDC. During meetings, you don’t really get to talk but when you have these events you can actually get to know someone more,” said Brandie Belstra, Branch Manager of the Centier Bank Portage office and board member of Portage EDC.
At the end of the day, everyone had a great time, established new connections, and learned a little bit more about all the great opportunities Portage has to offer. The event accomplished so many great things; Portage EDC’s future networking events are sure to be just as rewarding. Maletta is grateful to everyone who helped make this event possible and can’t wait for the next one.
“I just want to thank Ryan McCoy here at the Ports of Indiana for hosting and graciously helping us out. Also, all the people who came out. Everyone seemed like they enjoyed it, and I’d call that a success,” said Maletta. To learn more about Portage EDC and its mission to support the development and growth of business in Portage, visit https://www.portagein.org/home.