“I was once told that the greatest social program you can do is provide a good paying job for Mom and Dad.”
When Indiana American Water Operations Manager Justin Mount was asked to join the Portage Economic Development Corporation (EDC)’s board, he knew he had to take the opportunity. Mount had worked closely with the Portage EDC in his role at Indiana American Water, but time constraints prevented him from making a further commitment until 2019.
“Indian American Water has always been a participating member in the Portage EDC, but we never really had an active engagement due to various time constraints,” said Mount. “I've known the Portage EDC through my career, and I was reached out to by a few board members to be included. As a water utility, Indiana American Water is very engaged, and I find that element to be important. If I can fit their role, I am happy to do so.”
Four years later, Mount currently acts as the board president for the Portage EDC. His term began at the beginning of 2023, and he and the rest of the board have been actively promoting and supporting businesses throughout Portage. This includes offering tours of the Port of Indiana - Burns Harbor and establishing contact with businesses outside of Portage. One program Mount is particularly proud of is Workforce 360, a program aimed at showing Portage youth the employment opportunities in their own city.
“I think one of the things to always talk about as one of our long term successes is Workforce 360,” said Mount. “We're continuing to grow that program, which is key. This organization is a good tie between the school, partner entities of the board, and the community. Recently, we’ve had great success with Healthcare 360. We actually had some former participants who now work in health care come talk to kids in Portage about their experiences.”
Working internally with other board members is just as important as working externally with the community at large. Mount emphasized how the Portage EDC has begun to get involved with other economic development corporations throughout the Region to establish a mutually beneficial symbiosis.
“We’ve taken more of an active role with other economic development organizations, which is good for Portage and good for the Region,” Mount said. “We've begun branching out and not only hosting meetings inside of our office in Portage but also visiting the other entities throughout Northwest Indiana. We've had many opportunities to see what other other companies are doing.”
Mount’s role serving a major, necessary utility for economic development has helped to inform him in his participation on the Portage EDC board. Being in one position helps him make decisions for the other.
“In Northwest Indiana, we have a lot of major users like U.S. Steel and MonoSol that are able to exist in Portage because of the access to good quality water,” said Mount. “We're very blessed to have such a premium water source to help provide our businesses and our community with great drinking water. What I do for my day job helps our discussions with the business community and the city in a variety of aspects.”
As Mount helps Portage grow and develop, he couldn’t be more satisfied with the work he’s doing.
“It's a chance to help deliver good jobs to our community. It's a chance to be in a position where you're able to help existing community companies grow,” said Mount. “It's good to be part of a group that's focused on really providing voices to the business community. It's a chance to help the community strive and grow.”
To learn more about Portage Economic Development Corporation’s current initiatives, visit portagein.org.