With safety measures escalating to prevent the spread of COVID-19, businesses across Northwest Indiana are adjusting to the ripple effect that is making its way through society. Regardless of the changes still to come, the business community has united in taking control of at least one outcome: helping their patrons and the Region as a whole stay on its feet during this unprecedented shift.
Offering everything from free meals to greater accessibility to WiFi for those self-quarantining, Region businesses are playing their part in making the community as strong as ever. Here are just a few examples.
NIPSCO suspends shutoffs
NIPSCO announced that it will voluntarily suspend shutoffs for nonpayment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, effectively immediately. This suspension will apply to residential, commercial and industrial customers and will remain in effect until further notice.
Porter County Library offers curbside delivery and virtual storytelling
Available starting Tuesday, March 17 system-wide, Porter County Library system is offering curbside delivery during its normal operating hours (10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.). While all onsite operations are closed until April 10, PCLS plans to offer a virtual storytelling experience to children and parents affected by school closures. Visit https://www.pcpls.org/ as updates continue to develop.
United Way of Porter County looks out for working parents and their children
In their constant mission to help struggling families in the community, United Way of Porter County is hosting a fundraiser. Giving just $5 can help pay for unplanned child care expenses throughout the county during the coronavirus crisis. Click here to make a pledge.
NITCO lends a hand to remote workers
NITCO announced that it will voluntarily suspend shutoffs for nonpayment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, provide all their residential internet customers with maximum speed to their home location with no additional charges for 90 days, and waive late fees during the pandemic.
NITCO is also providing free access and use of its NITCO Conference Bridge for all Businesses. Users do not need to be a current NITCO customer to take advantage of this offer. There will be no charge for 90 days, and continuing to use the service will cost just $4.00. Visit https://www.nitco.com/ or call 219-996-0230 for more info.
Here is an exclusive story we wrote spotlighting NITCO's efforts during this time: https://nwi.life/article/nitco-steps-up-during-covid-19-offers-perks-for-residential-business-customers/
McAlister’s Deli offers children free meals
Restaurants may be closed, but people can still pick up meals to go. Starting Monday, March 16 and running until the end of the month, McAlister’s Deli in Valparaiso and Merrillville will be offering free meals to all kids. Kids Eat FREE all day, no purchase necessary and no strings attached.
Visit https://www.mcalistersdeli.com/ for more information.
Be sure to explore your local community pages to discover more restaurants and eateries offering this option.
Comcast donates free WiFi
To help ensure people stay connected to the Internet as more schools suspend classes and companies encourage employees to work from home due to the Coronavirus, Comcast is offering free WiFi. Visit https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19 for more details.
VNA offers Friend2Friend program and Phone Companionship Program
Know an older adult age who’s feeling isolated? Join the VNA in helping elder adults feel connected and less lonely. Details here: https://valpo.life/article/vna-of-northwest-indiana-delivers-comfort-to-seniors-during-stay-at-home-order/
Kankakee Valley REMC suspends disconnections
The cooperative has suspended disconnections for non-payment of monthly electric bills until April 3. “We understand that due to temporary closures of schools and businesses, some families might experience financial hardships. During this time of uncertainty, we want our members to know that we are committed to helping,” stated Scott Sears, CEO for Kankakee Valley REMC. Prior to the April 3 date, the cooperative will re-evaluate the situation and make changes to the policy as they see necessary. Member-consumers are encouraged to continue to make payments as they can to their electric bill to avoid a larger balance in the future. Updates can be found at https://www.kvremc.com/ .
Flanagin's Bulk Mail offering assistance for canceled events
If you previously did an event mailing with Flanagin’s Bulk Mail and your event was canceled because of COVID-19, we will try to help. Once the health concern has passed and if you are still planning on having your event, they would be happy to do the mailing labor for free if you choose to advertise it again by mail.
Pokagon Band donates nine pallets of food from Four Winds Casinos
After closing casino operations to the public, the Pokagon Band donated nine pallets of food totaling 7,450 pounds to local charities who are coordinating efforts to feed those in need. Read the full story here: https://laportecounty.life/article/the-pokagon-band-donates-nine-pallets-of-food-from-its-four-winds-casinos-to-feed-those-in-need/
Blue Chip Casino donates perishable food items
This week, Blue Chip Casino has been donating our perishable food items to various local shelters like Citizens Concerned for the Homeless Inc. of Michigan City Indiana. Many organizations are running low on supplies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the donations from Blue Chip will help those in need across the community in getting food.
Strack & Van Til responds to COVID-19 with "Check-Out Challenge"
Strack & Van Til partnered with the Salvation Army of Lake County, Porter and Jasper Counties, launching a “Check-Out Challenge” campaign to raise emergency dollars for the Army’s services. The money will help provide groceries, hot meals and other necessary goods and services to individuals and families experiencing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information: https://nwi.life/article/strack-van-til-stores-launch-check-out-challenge-in-response-to-covid-19-crisis/
Indiana opens hotline regarding Gov. Holcomb's Executive Order
Indiana will open a call center to field industry questions about Governor Eric J. Holcomb’s Executive Order 20-08, which provides for essential and non-essential business operations, infrastructure and government functions while the state observes a stay-at-home order from March 25-April 7. The Critical Industries Hotline will open Tuesday at 9 a.m. to help guide businesses and industries with the executive order. This center, reachable by calling 877-820-0890 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, is for business and industry questions only. All of Gov. Holcomb’s Executive Orders can found here.
Regional Federal Credit Union offers financial help
COVID-19 Relief Program
REGIONAL is driven by the concept of “People Helping People.” We are dedicated to making lives better, helping businesses thrive, and serving our community.
These are extraordinary times, and extraordinary times call for decisive action on every level. We are implementing options to help our members lessen the impact of job loss, layoffs, reduced hours or a sharp decline in business income.
REGIONAL’s Skip-A-Payment Program is designed to help those affected financially by the current situation. Members are encouraged to call 1-800-762-7419 and speak with a REGIONAL team member about this program and others that we have available.
Consumer and Business Loan Skip-A-Payment Program*: For consumers and businesses facing a financial hardship related to family sickness or workplace closures due to COVID-19, REGIONAL will offer a Skip-A-Payment program for up to 180-days with no credit bureau impact. Multiple loans can be covered, with a small fee of $15 per membership.
CD Penalties Waived: We are waiving early withdrawal penalties if any member needs access to their money.
Personal Loan Relief Special: Receive up to $500 with a fixed rate of 5.00% APR with a maximum 9-month term. The first payment will be 45-days from disbursal date.
Visa Credit Card Skip A Payment Option: Skip your VISA credit card payment for 30 days with no impact on your credit bureau. No fee is required.
Refinance Option: No Payment for 90-Days to refinance any consumer loan financed elsewhere with REGIONAL.
Trusted Advisor: REGIONAL is here to try and assist our members in any way we can during these difficult times. Please call us with any questions.
*APR=Annual Percentage Rate. Subject to credit review. Rates are subject to change without notice. Not all applicants will qualify for lowest rate. Rates are based on credit history and qualifications. Promotion may end at any time without notice. Offer valid from March 28, 2020 through June 30, 2020. See a Lending Expert for full details.
IU Northwest announces free drive-up internet access to help public cope with stay-at-home order
Gary, Ind. – Indiana University Northwest announced today that it will assist the general public, along with its students and campus community, with gaining much-needed internet access during the state’s mandated stay-at-home fight against the coronavirus.
Recognizing that many may not have adequate internet access at a time when it is critically needed, IU Northwest invites members of the community to take advantage of its “Hot Spot Lot,” located in the main parking area closest to the Moraine Student Center, without leaving their cars.
Indiana University announced previously that after an extended spring break for all of its campuses, the remainder of the spring semester will be conducted entirely online beginning March 30 in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This presents challenges for the entire campus community, campus leaders acknowledged, but also members of the greater community, whom the University also serves.
“Sharing our resources with others in need is a priority for us all during this difficult time and IU Northwest is no exception,” said Chancellor William J. Lowe. “We’re asking our students to complete their semester in a non-traditional way, which is challenging enough. Now, with the state’s additional mandate for residents to stay at home, we realize this poses even greater obstacles, with competition for technology from other family members, and a lack of access in general for many residents. We hope this public service will help our entire community.”
Nick Ray, IU’s regional chief information officer, said he is proud IU Northwest can provide the technology required to accommodate these heightened needs. He added that the technology will allow students to complete their studies and provide additional access to the community.
Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s lieutenant governor, applauded the move, which is being implemented by IU campuses across the state.
“I am so proud of the creativity and innovation that Indiana University is showing to supply Hoosiers with free and reliable high-speed internet access as we work together to combat the spread of COVID-19,” she said. “Their efforts will allow Hoosiers, not just in Bloomington, but throughout the entire state, to click, connect, and download all while maintaining social distancing.”
How to access the IU Northwest Guest Network
Faculty, staff, and students can log into IU’s secure networks from the lots, just as they would on campus.
The IU Northwest guest network should be treated like any public access point, and users should be aware that security is the same as any other public wireless network. It is not known how long the availability of this service will last.
The IU Police Department – Northwest officers will be patrolling the area as usual.
More information is available at iun.edu/guestwireless.
Kankakee Valley REMC donates to local food pantries
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the hardships that it is causing for families, children, and seniors, Kankakee Valley REMC’s Operation Round Up Trust organization recently made donations to area food pantries totaling $20,000. During this unprecedented time, the donation to each pantry will allow them to continue the fight against hunger in their community. Read the details here: https://valpo.life/article/kankakee-valley-remc-operation-round-up-trust-donates-20k-to-local-food-pantries/.
Horizon Bank pledges $250,000 toward COVID-19 relief
Horizon Bank pledged $250,000 in aid for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds will be allocated across several not-for-profit groups who are working to assist affected individuals in the communities we serve in the States of Indiana and Michigan. https://nwi.life/article/horizon-bank-pledges-250000-in-financial-assistance-toward-covid-19-relief-efforts/
Latitude Commercial and Sysco partner to benefit The Salvation Army of Lake County
The Salvation Army of Lake County was contacted by the McDermott brothers, owners of Latitude Commercial Real Estate Services, saying that they had arranged for a large donation of food from Sysco to benefit The Salvation Army of Lake County’s three Corps Community Centers and its Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Gary, Indiana. The donation would benefit other nonprofits in Northwest Indiana as well. Read the full story here: https://nwi.life/article/sysco-and-latitude-commercial-partner-to-provide-almost-4-5-tons-of-food-to-the-salvation-army/