Over 50 businesses from all over La Porte County gathered at Space Center la Porte for this year’s Made in La Porte County manufacturing expo. Indiana does more manufacturing per capita than any other state so it encompasses a huge part of our economy. The Thursday, September 24th event gave students and other residents of the county a chance to see how critical manufacturing is to the workplace and what opportunities there are for them in the industry.
Greater La Porte Economic Development Corporation (GLEDC) Executive Director Bert Cook was one of three representatives of the community that spoke to the crowd. “Throughout our county,” he said, “there is a major effort afoot to better the communication between our schools and businesses; and in turn rediscover manufacturing.”
La Porte Mayor Blair Milo and Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City (EDCMC) Executive Director Clarence Hulse also made speeches to the guests and collaborators of the expo. Each booth in the expansive warehouse was manned by different business representatives showcasing what their company manufactures and what a job with their company entails. "Made in La Porte County" is not a job fair, but it has similar traits. People can inquire about applying for a position, but more importantly they get a deeper view of the industry.
“It’s meant to be an opportunity for folks to understand more about what manufacturing and specifically manufacturing in La Porte county has to offer our workforce," Mayor Blair Milo said, describing her perspective of the event. "There are so many things that you would have no idea are made right here in La Porte.”
The busiest woman at the event was Kim Ramsey, the Assistant Development Director for both GLEDC and EDCMC. Made in La Porte County was co-hosted by the companies but was coordinated in large part by Ramsey. She is grateful for the larger space they have this year, donated to them by Tom Casey and Space Center. The event comes once every other year and with each one, there is anticipation and excitement.
“We’re super excited about seeing participants and students that want to be here. It takes a lot of planning and organizing to get them here. It’s great to be a part of a team that works so well to engage the community.”
Rebecca Holwerda, the Northwest Indiana Regional Director working with Senator Dan Coats, said, “It’s great to see how legislation and regulation effects companies.”
For Heather Ennis, CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum, the opportunity for business and education to have a common goal was key. “To see the companies come out and teach the kids is great,” she said.
Clarence Hulse was glad to provide the local kids a chance to see what high tech companies are making products in the kids' own community. "We are showing kids that manufacturing is a viable career. It is so broad,” he explained.
The students certainly saw a diverse amount of technology. The School Michigan City robotics team was present with their t-shirt shooter and other models of their progress. One booth had models of bones and dinosaurs and another boasted pyrotechnics that the average light show is missing out on.
The La Porte County Library had a booth for the first time this year. They had their mobile makers on display beside a series of pamphlets for kids, teens, and adults. Public Relations Professional Kristi Chadderdon said, “We like to show that adults are just as eager to see the new technology as kids. We love to put it in their hands.”
T’Andre Harris, a College and Career Readiness Coach with a booth of his own, was on hand to give children information on their secondary schooling options. His job is to spread awareness about the different jobs and the diverse economy in the area. "I don’t think a lot of people realize what is going on in the neighborhood and what there is to offer,” explained Harris.
Janael Weist came to the expo to help her family network and raise business. For her, Made in La Porte County is important for many reasons. It is great for her family and great for her fellow students.
“It opens up more opportunities for students to see the options they have,” she explained.
Made in La Porte County is a comprehensive glimpse into the local manufacturing industry, a bustling economy that deserves much more appreciation.
Michigan City, IN 46360
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