Top 10 business articles on Portage.Life in 2023

Top 10 business articles on Portage.Life in 2023
By: Alayna Wilkening, Aubrey Thomson, Autum Meyers, Curtis Hankins, Damon Modglin, Ethan Levy, Jona Robinson Last Updated: December 18, 2023

A lot of business is conducted in the Region, and GreatNews.Life is there to capture the biggest moments. Whether that’s spotlighting some of the businesses making an impact on the day-to-day lives of those living in Northwest Indiana to helping find our readers a home in an ever expanding market, we’re proud to serve as a leader in business reporting in the Region.

2023 saw a lot of focus placed on the people who help production run in Portage. New ventures were introduced to the Region, old ones were reacquainted, and a special spotlight shone on the employees that make every successful business work.

In no particular order, here are the Top 10 business articles on Portage.Life to recap the good news in 2023!

Family law team at Rhame, Elwood & McClure strengthened by Associates Brazil and DeMarco

For decades, when the Region needed legal advice on issues of family law, it turned to John Rhame III at Rhame, Elwood & McClure, PC. Rhame has been practicing law for over 40 years and has handled more than 4,000 family law cases in the Region, but he’s just one man. That’s where Associates Michael "Mike" Brazil and Devon DeMarco come in.

A supportive and giving culture makes Four Winds Casinos the perfect place to build a career

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi’s Four Winds Casinos are always looking for talented people to enrich the experiences of their guests and help Four Winds grow. However, with Four Winds South Bend’s brand new 23-story hotel expansion, the need for outstanding individuals is greater than ever. 

At Four Winds South Bend alone, there are over 300 open positions just waiting to be filled, not to mention the countless other positions available at all of Four Winds’ other locations. There are all kinds of full and part-time positions available,. Nail technicians, massage therapists, estheticians, chefs, servers, managers, housekeepers, cage cashiers, security officers--the list is endless. If you’re a team-oriented person who loves to serve and give back to guests, then Four Winds has the perfect spot for you. 

Devoted employees share overwhelming sense of pride during Strack & Van Til annual Years of Service Luncheon

When a company takes the time to show some love to its employees, it’s always a heartwarming affair. On Wednesday, April 26, Strack & Van Til celebrated its annual Years of Service Luncheon to honor some of its most committed and hardworking employees. A sense of pride and unity hung in the air as President and CEO Jeff Strack thanked his employees for their loyal years of service.

“It’s really humbling to see so many dedicated managers and associates here celebrating their years of service. It’s really the people that come to work every day at Strack & Van Til that help make our company successful and help establish the culture that has made us become Northwest Indiana’s number one grocer,” said Strack.

Portage, IN Welcomes McColly Real Estate’s New Office with Ribbon Cutting Ceremony!

Every realtor knows the three most important words when it comes to finding the perfect property—location, location, location—so when one of the Portage locations of McColly Real Estate saw the opportunity to relocate to an office in a prime area off of Route 6 in Portage, Ind., the decision was clear.

Portage EDC’s Board President Justin Mount is committed to seeing Portage grow

“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.

Annual Car Show takes Rittenhouse’s residents on a cruise down memory lane

While life finds a way to always move forward, one thing that never grows old is a love of cars. Even in the summer heat, Rittenhouse Village at Portage’s residents were ecstatic to be connecting with the community, enjoying some music, and cruising down memory lane at Rittenhouse’s eighth annual car show. 

The show featured 22 classic cars lined up nice and pretty while DJ Joe Zirconia played golden oldies and Rittenhouse staff served food to the residents. The event, a joint production by Rittenhouse and the Portage Chamber of Commerce, is an opportunity for seniors living at Rittenhouse to engage with the community.

Co-owners Michael Bottos & Gina Manns collaborate to thrive at 1st American Management Company

Michael Bottos, CPM®, and Gina Manns, CPA, are a dynamic pair.  Both are co-owners of 1st American Management Co., Inc having started at the ground level more than two decades ago – Manns as an accountant and Bottos as a lifeguard – and grew into their current roles as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO), respectively.  Under their reign, 1st American Management has grown to managing property for owners and renters of commercial real estate, and more than 170 homeowner associations representing over 16,000 residents around the Region.

1st American Management Company was a young company when they joined, with Manns having started in 1997, just four years after it was officially formed by then owner John R. Marshall. It took her just one month to get promoted to Accounting Manager, a role she spent the next 20 years developing and refining. Things were not quite as straightforward for Bottos, who initially worked as a summer lifeguard at a neighborhood managed by 1st American Management Company.

1st Source Foundation awards grant to support Portage Library Garden project

At the groundbreaking for the Rotary Library Garden at Valparaiso Public Library, Director of Porter County Library System Jesse Butz pitched the idea of creating a similar space at Portage Public Library to Portage Mayor Sue Lynch. Butz and Lynch have talked since the Rotary Library groundbreaking, and the idea of implementing the Portage Library Garden has gained momentum.

During a conversation with 1st Source Bank West Regional President Matt Vessely, Butz mentioned his desire to construct the Portage Library Garden. As 1st Source Foundation is constantly on the lookout for local projects and organizations in need of financial support, Vessely knew immediately that it would be a fantastic fit for a grant opportunity.

Surf Internet in process of ‘lighting up’ Portage with fiber

The future is fiber, and Surf Internet has been a fiber leader in Northwest Indiana, implementing fiber across the Region in places like La Porte, Culver, and Knox. Lately, much of Surf Internet’s attention has been focused on serving Porter County’s fiber needs. After developing a relationship with Portage schools, Surf Internet decided to extend that connection to the City of Portage.

“We've been working with Portage Township Schools, so we’ve served about 10 schools and 6,500 students for five years,” said Scott Franko, director of Business Development and Community Relations. “We're one of the top providers of broadband when it comes to serving schools in the States of Indiana and Illinois. In light of our relationship with the school, we saw the greater need, and it makes sense to build out fiber to the home and fiber throughout the community in Portage.”

Center of Workforce Innovations puts on first annual Construction and Trades Day in Porter County

Students and young adults from across Northwest Indiana came to the Porter County Expo Center for a Construction and Skilled Trades Day on Wednesday, September 20. The Construction Advancement Foundation first put on this event in Lake County with the help of Center of Workforce Innovations, who then brought it to Porter County.

“We brought it to Porter County because we had all these Porter County students who weren't always able to make it out to Lake County,” said Amy Burke, director of Northwest Indiana Regional Employer and Educator Alliance for Developing Youth (READY) at Center of Workforce Innovations. “We wanted to make sure we had those opportunities here. College is an opportunity that not everybody has. College is awesome, but there's all kinds of opportunities in all these different trades.”