City of Hammond Economic Development Team Hosts Networking Night at Towle Theater

Nestled at the north end of Hammond’s historic downtown area is a hidden gem known as the Towle Theater. We recently had the honor of being invited to stop by and meet with a few of the people who work so hard to keep Hammond and the northwest Indiana area alive and thriving through business and the arts.

Africa Tarver, Director of Economic Development with the city of Hammond, invited us to their “Business After Hours” event, held quarterly at various locations and venues throughout Hammond.

“We recently started the “Business After Hours” program as a way for local business owners to get together and network in a casual setting, in order to grow the community and better serve our residents,” said Tarver. “We generally try to piggyback with other events in the community, in an effort to further bring awareness to that event, as well.”

Tarver invited us to sample some of the food which was provided for tonight’s event.

“This event was catered by Freddy’s Steak House, with dessert provided by Weekend Baker, who did a marvelous job,” said Tarver. “I really feel that Hammond and the rest of the area are really prime for revitalization, with new businesses opening and even more to come.”

Kelly and Dustin Voris agree. Voris is vice-president of the Hessville Commerce and Community Creative, and also owner of The Tattoo Lady, a long-established tattoo shop in the Hessville neighborhood of Hammond. “We’ve been working really hard over the last few years to bring interesting events to the area,” Voris nodded. “We’ve come up with some amazing things, like ‘Live in the Ville,’ the Hessville Farmers’ Market, and we’re really looking forward to this years’ Zombie Crawl event, which is always just incredibly fun.”

After sampling some of the delicious treats, we met with Jeff Casey, Managing Director of the Towle Theater, who introduced us to Towle Theater benefactors Richard and Carole Barnes, and gave us a little background on the theater.

“We’ve been here since 2003,” said Casey. “In fact, this is the site of the original Towle Opera House, which was of course built by and named after the very first mayor of the City of Hammond, Marcus Towle, back in 1903.” Casey then invited us on a brief tour of the stage prior to tonight’s play, Towle Theater’s production of Perfect Wedding, and even let us sit in and watch as the actors practiced some of the action.

Perfect Wedding, starring Jerico Bleu, Lauren Knutson, Ian Rigg, Linda Roberts, Stephanie Rohr and Rachel Silvert, is in its final weekend. Be sure to catch it while you can!

For more information, call the Towle Theater at 219-937-8780, or visit them online at