Indiana Governor Mike Pence Pays a Visit to Portage

By: Caitlin Vanlaningham Last Updated: June 5, 2013

Portage Mayor James Snyder hosted a special luncheon on Wednesday in honor of a special guest. Governor Mike Pence, the newly elected governor of Indiana, was to be the main speaker at the luncheon.

The event was organized by the Greater Portage Chamber of Commerce and the Portage Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO). It was a packed house at Woodland Park as chamber and PEDCO members as well as prominent members of the Portage community as well as other communities awaited Pence’s arrival. While everyone waited, lunch (which was provided by Town and County Market) was served. An invocation was given beforehand by a local pastor and NIPSCOPresident Kathleen O'Leary spoke afterward.

James Fitzer, the Executive Director of the PEDCO, was busy making sure everything and everyone was in order before the governor arrived. He spoke proudly of the governor and the recent economic growth of Portage.

“We’re really excited today,” Fitzer said. “We started out today with a groundbreaking at the Belmont Building at Ameriplex. It is a partial spec building that already has tenants coming in. So we’re going to hear from the governor soon…so we’re really excited. It’s another great opportunity for PEDCO and the Chamber of Commerce to host this event and we look forward to more opportunities like this in the future. I am very happy to have him here and Amy Parker from my office has worked like a trooper bringing this thing together.”

Fitzer wasn’t the only person who was eager to see Governor Pence and hear what he had to say about the economic growth in Indiana. Janice Ryba, the CEO of St. Mary Medical Center, was in attendance and she was quite interested in the governor’s thoughts and ideas.

“I’d really like to see what the governor has planned, as he’s in his new role, for the region as it relates to the economy at large,” Ryba said. “I think there is a lot of excitement because the Governor Pence is here and I think seeing his presence here will energize the community.”

Shortly after lunch began, Governor Pence arrived and was greeted by a standing ovation. Mayor Snyder introduced the governor and then the main event began.

Governor Pence discussed four initiatives that he and his team that would stimulate job creation within the state: Fiscal stability -an honestly balanced budget, lowering taxes and freeze regulations that harm business growth, investing in key assets that keep businesses going -like our roads, life sciences and waterways- and providing the best education to the schools of Indiana -concentrating on career and vocational education and making them higher priorities in schools.

“I truly do believe that Indiana is poised for an era of growth and opportunity like no other,” Governor Pence said.

He gave detailed descriptions of what he plans to do and why each factor was important in making Indiana’s economic growth go into overdrive. After his speech, Governor Pence stayed and chatted with the guests. I was able to catch a word with him before the event ended.

When asked if one initiative took precedence over the others, Governor Pence replied, “I think all these initiatives works together, like the legs of a chair. Each one of them supports our overall message of making Indiana the most attractive place in America to start a business, grow a business or get a job.”

Is there one initiative that he is tackling before the others?

“A balanced budget is really where it all began,” Governor Pence said. “We were able to sign that into law. It also included the largest state tax cut in Indiana history and significant investments in roads and education. So we’ve begun to address the first three and we’ve passed legislation to give us new tools to improve our workforce and we’re in the process now of taking advantage of that we’re going to be putting those into effect this summer.”

Governor Pence had only two stops that he was making that day; one at the luncheon and one in Gary, IN to sign Senate Bill 585 that will help boost the economy for Lake County. Why did he chose Portage over otherplaces in Porter County?

“Portage is just a very exciting community,” Governor Pence said. “I think there’s dynamic leadership here, a tremendous business community and you also get a sense that Portage is a community that understands the great potential of this moment in the life of the state and is reaching to tell their story in and around Indiana. I was just anxious to make sure that the business and education leaders here knew what we were planning to do and could be part of a widening success story. I feel very encouraged about what we were able to pass into law, but now it’s about taking these tools and making job creation job number one. At the end of the day, people in the public light ought to be judged by the results of what they do and that’s why we’re going to continue to focus every effort into getting Hoosiers back into work and getting these schools working for our kids.”

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Sponsors from the event: NIPSCO, Porter Regional Hospital, PESCO, Centier Bank, Meridian Title Corporation, First Source Bank, St. Mary Medical Center, MonoSol, and Creative Graphic Solutions.