On Tuesday, August
7, members of the Porter County Board of Commissioners and Porter County
Council hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to signal the start of a $3.2
million renovation project to restore the Expo Center to its former status
as the pre-eminent event venue in Porter County.
The Expo project
interior and exterior renovation of the main Expo building
of failing HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems in the main Expo Building
Installation of new sound system in main Expo building
* Addition of
an outdoor patio to main Expo Building
and restroom upgrades in Expo East building
both buildings and restrooms into full ADA compliance.
Opened in 1984, the
Porter County Expo Center has hosted thousands of events and millions of
visitors over the past 34 years with only routine maintenance. The current
condition of the facilities has relegated the Expo to a second-tier event
venue with a primary focus on trade shows, craft fairs, auctions, and car
shows with occasional non-profit fundraising events.
those types of events are not large revenue producers. With the renovation,
the Expo Center can return to top-tier status and attract higher revenue
events, as well as reclaim corporate and non-profit events that were once
theirs. It could even become competitive in the lucrative wedding reception
“We are so excited
because this project is going to open many doors that were previously closed
to us,” said Expo Director Lori Daly. “During construction, we are going to
be out aggressively marketing our new and improved venue. Plus, we are
already getting calls from past vendors who want to come back to the Expo.”
The Expo Main and
Expo East buildings will be closed during construction, but they will
continue to host some events in outdoor spaces and other smaller buildings.
It is anticipated that the project will be completed by the end of April
2019. The renovations were designed by Valparaiso-based Shive-Hattery, with
construction project management by Skillman Corp.
The Expo Center
project is part of a $30 million Capital Upgrade Plan introduced in 2017 to
address deferred maintenance on County-owned buildings. Based on needs, not
wants, the plan also includes work at the Administration Center plaza,
Valparaiso courthouse, the North County Government Complex, the old jail
building at 157 Franklin in Valparaiso, and some bridges.
“We are using an
open, transparent, competitive bidding process on all of these projects, and
so far, all successful bids have come in under budget,” said Commissioner
President Jeff Good, R-Center. “We are controlling costs, and even more
important to our taxpayers, this $30 million Capital Upgrade Plan is being
completed without any tax increases.”