In the interest of
economic development, the Porter County Board of Commissioners have taken
under advisement a presentation made by representatives of Elevate Ventures,
a non-profit organization which is currently trying to introduce ways new
businesses with high potential can get their start in different parts of the
Entrepreneur-in-residence for Northwest and North Central regions Kelly
Schwedland told the Commissioners at their meeting Tuesday that Elevate is
seeking $1 million in each of the three Northern Indiana regions in its
Regional Entrepreneurial Action Plan over a 3-year period. Elevate, for its
part, contributes $2 million a year in providing assistance to new startup
are considering the request to chip in $200,000 for the County’s share.
County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, asked that the amount be
divided over a 4-year period.
Elevate works to help businesses find their footing by qualifying for
Indiana Angel Funds, which is seed capital for businesses to start their
products, services or technology, or 21st Century Funding which is managed
by Elevate to generate growth and job creation.
The goal eventually
will be for businesses to successfully grow out of the “incubator” or seed
stage and grow on their own as starter companies and generate their own
outside investment capital, Schwedland said. Firms that grow are likely to
add new jobs, he said.
Elevate’s vision is
to create an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” and will hold events where new
business leaders can meet to share ideas, Schwedland said.
The City of
Valparaiso has joined the effort recently and Schwedland said the Northwest
Indiana Regional Development Authority has shown interest in financial
Other states that
have launched programs similar to Elevate Ventures have reported success
such as North Carolina, he said. Counties like St. Joseph, Kosciusko, and
Elkhart have participated in launching grant programs for high-potential
companies through Elevate.
Shurr Blaney, D-South, asked Schwedland if it was probable that these
companies could stay in Porter County.
“The intent would
be for them to stay here,” Schwedland said, but he advised that the
companies would be inclined to locate wherever they could make the most
Evans said he
favored the proposal because it fit the Commissioners’ initiative to attract
businesses to local cities and towns and grow their tax bases.
“We’d like to be a
community-oriented type body. If we can bring jobs back into Porter County
where they would otherwise escape, I think that’s great,” he said.
Evans said the
board will consider a funding mechanism and take a vote at its next meeting
on April 15.
As winter storms
blasted Porter County in one of the snowiest seasons on record, not all
County employees were getting word that the Administration Building was
Closure alerts were
posted on the County’s website and through social media sites but some
employees do not have e-mail or internet access at home, ITS Director Sharon
But now, through
the current vendor and at no cost to the County, a phone tree calling
service is available for those employees to receive alerts by land lines or
“(No cost) is
always good,” said Evans who thanked Lippens for setting up the service.
Lippens said the
public and anyone interested can create a profile on the County’s website to
receive weather and other emergency alerts.
Calumet Trail rehab
In other business,
the Commissioners approved bids to be sought for construction on the portion
of the Calumet Trail between Mineral Springs Rd. and Tremont Rd., a stretch
of roughly two miles.
Improvements are to
be made for drainage, trail signage and wildlife protection. The County is
using Federal Transportation Enhancement grants and additional funding from
the RDA for the work.
Executive Director Robert Thompson said SEH Inc., the consultant for the
engineering, has submitted plans to the Indiana Department of
approval, bidding can start, Thompson said. Work is expected to start in
late summer or early fall.
Blaney said that
she will be meeting with the current president of the Shared Ethics Advisory
Commission, Cal Bellamy, to discuss the terms of the County’s membership.
voted unanimously to join the commission last month.
Blaney said that
the Commission has cut the membership costs in half. It will be $2,500 the
first year the County joins and $1,500 for each year thereafter.