Porter County boasts a thriving and ever-growing business community, and every year, the majority of those businesses gather in one place for one night of networking. With its breadth of activity, fun, and games, Chamber Network Night has become a popular event for businesses and potential customers alike. Chamber Network Night 2018 was no exception--on August 2, the Porter County Expo Center became a bustling hub of connectivity.
Presented by the Valparaiso, Greater Portage, and Duneland Chambers of Commerce and sponsored by Nitco, Chamber Network Night 2018 enabled the brightest and best businesses to join forces. Over 120 exhibitors introduced their latest products and services to the public, and many offered giveaways and promotions.
“We really appreciate all of our partners with the Portage Chamber and the Valparaiso Chamber, and to have the opportunity to work with them to strengthen our chamber,” said Maura Durham, President of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. “We really appreciate all of the business community coming out, especially with the change of date. It’s been really fun and people have really incorporated the theme into their booths. It’s a great way to network and see so many people at the same time doing business together. It just makes you feel really good about wanting to do business in Porter County.”
In years past, Chamber Network Night has taken place in October and everyone was encouraged to embrace a Halloween theme. Due to upcoming construction at the Porter County Expo Center, the event was shifted up to August. However, the change of schedule did not prevent the Chambers from playing at a theme; this year, a luau theme livened the scene. Most businesses went all out, decorating their booths with straw and tikis.
“Despite it being August, we sold out again,” said Nancy Simpson, Executive Director for the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce. “This a great event for all three chambers; this is an event proving that we all work together well. A lot of times, there are events that are held between each chamber, and a chamber member who belongs to all three chambers can’t make all of the different events. So to have one event that’s combined instead of three different golf outings, that’s awesome.”
Among the mass of exhibitors were such regional household names as St. Mary Medical Center, Porter Regional Hospital, First Merchants Bank, and Century 21 (who were trying to find homes for kittens!)
“There’s a lot of excitement here, a lot of energy, a lot of business partners, and we’re just happy to be a part of it,” said Karin Birchel, Regional Community Programming & Senior Program Coordinator with Porter Regional Hospital. “You’re constantly making connections. The first hour is business to business, so it’s wonderful because you’re meeting business partners in the community, and folks from the public will come through and say, ‘We came to your hospital. You saved my life!’ So it’s nice to be able to take away those good feelings that we are making a difference in the care we’re giving.”
Jessica Shilling and Jamie Heintz of CertaPro Painters of Northwest Indiana attended Network Chamber Night for the third time. Both reported that the event has grown larger and more festive each year.
“We’re here to get CertaPro’s name out there, and to give other businesses recognition that CertaPro does commercial painting,” Shilling said. “So we’re to getting to know all of their commercial needs and seeing if we can develop a future work relationship.”
“And, of course, to have fun!” Heintz added.
Also among the attendees were representatives of Porter County Family & Youth Services Bureau program, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA.) Judy Hain, a volunteer for CASA, was enjoying mingling with everyone, but they also had a goal throughout the night.
“We’re hoping to get more volunteers for the CASA program,” Hain said. “We’re hoping people get interested and take more information with them, and that they eventually say, ‘Oh, this sounds like me. This is something I would enjoy.’ We had another organization who stopped by and explained that they like to do donations to places with causes, so we connected with each other.”
One of Northwest Indiana’s one-of-a-kind companies, Steindler Signs & Graphix, had a giant Plinko board and prizes for guests. Mike Wszolek, Graphic Designer for Steindler Signs, kept it short and sweet when it came to describing his evening.
“Any night we can party on the beach, play Plinko, and network is a good night,” Wszolek said.
Well said! Chamber Network Night 2018 combined the practicality of a business luncheon with the scale and trappings of a region-wide party. We can hardly wait until next year!
For more information about the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, visit their website. For more information about the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, visit their webiste. For more information about the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce, visit their website.