Born and raised in Michigan City, Katie Eaton is a dedicated member of her community who is making an impact in more ways than one. From her role as Economic Development Manager at the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City, to a mother of three, Eaton is determined to do what she can to foster the growth and development of her hometown.
She first pursued a career in marketing and sales, securing bachelor’s degrees in Communication and English. After working for a stint in sales, she was forced to change paths when the Recession hit.
“I was volunteering a lot just to stay active and I was volunteering with a group called Junior Achievement of La Porte County,” Eaton explained. “This then turned into a part time job. So that’s how I got into the nonprofit world.”
Eaton soon found that she was working with a lot of businesses and wanted to gain an education that would allow her to be a better resource. She enrolled at Purdue University Northwest in 2013 to pursue a master’s degree in Business Administration, with the expectation that she would not land a job until after graduation.
“I realized that a lot of what I was studying would make a lot more sense to me if I was able to apply it right away,” said Eaton. “I plan-changed to try and find a job right away which led me to my role in workforce development at the Center of Workforce Innovation in Valparaiso.”
She spent two years there as a recruiter, honing her skills and becoming a valuable contributor to the economic growth of Northwest Indiana. Nevertheless, her heart was still with Michigan City.
“There was a position open here at the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City, also working directly with employers,” Eaton said. “Of course, Michigan City being my hometown, I jumped at the chance to apply, and fortunately was given this position here which I’m thrilled with.”
Her work at the EDCMC requires that she be both business and nonprofit savvy; two skills that she has acquired due to her varied educational background and breadth of professional experiences. As a result, she is one of the most effective leaders in Michigan City.
“My role here [at the EDCMC] is really working with local employers to ensure that they have everything that they need,” said Eaton. “We act a lot as a liaison between the employers and multiple groups and partners and resources that we have access to. Whether it’s in regards to looking for ways to build their business physically or they’re trying to build it with talent, we are providing them access to resources that are out there for employers.”
Eaton has also been sure to make an impact outside of work by volunteering her time with multiple groups. She is currently the Vice President of Purdue Northwest Alumni Community, a member on the Executive Committee for the Lakefront Career Network, and an active member of the Michigan City Rotary Club. In each of these positions, Eaton has effectively brought people and groups together to make big things happen. While it does take a lot of hard work, the driving force for her success is rooted in passion.
“It’s where I was born and raised,” Eaton said. “I feel like Michigan City has made me the person I am today...Coming back and being able to work for those people who have always strived to build a better and stronger community just made sense for me. It’s work that I can do every day and say that I’m proud of being a part of making Michigan City be a better place to live and work for families.”
Eaton’s love for Michigan City is something she wishes to instill in her children. Married with three kids, one of Eaton’s top priorities as a mother is to show her kids that the hometown they share is something worth investing in. What’s more, she wants them to know that they have the power to make it even better.
“My kids and my family are probably the most motivation for me,” said Eaton. “Everything that I do I think is, in a way, to expose them to things that are different to their day-to-day life and helping to build a community that they can be proud of, and yet be a part of as well.”