United States Senator Richard Lugar Speaks to Valparaiso Chamber Percolator Club Meeting

By: Brett Fuller Last Updated: August 30, 2011

“Let me say something good to begin with: Indiana agriculture is strong.” Senator Richard Lugar told the crowd at the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce’s monthly Percolator Club meeting.

Nearly 200 members of the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce packed Harre Union at Valparaiso University to hear the senator speak on issues, such as foreign policy, international trade, and Indiana’s role in the recovering economy on Tuesday.

On hand to see the United States Senator speak included State Senator Ed Charbonneau, State Representative Ed Soliday, Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, along with Mark Heckler, President of Valparaiso University.

“We’re grateful for you, Senator, for the leadership you have offered to the world,” Gus Olympidis, President and CEO of Family Express, the event’s Program Sponsor, said as he introduced Senator Lugar.

The focus for the first part of his speech on Tuesday was on the United States’ changing role in the world, specifically in regards to nuclear disarmament, along with what is known as the “Arab Spring” taking place in the Middle East. Lugar was originally elected to the United States Senate in November of 1976, joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shortly thereafter, and has played a key role in foreign policy since. His expertise on the matters was on display as he explained complex foreign relation themes to the Chamber members.

Lugar has also focused on agriculture within the economy during his tenure as Senator. Within three months of taking oath, he had joined the Senate Agriculture Committee. During the speech, he explained a bit about the role of agriculture, in particular Indiana agriculture, will play in the world going forward.

"In due course, we will not be able to feed the world, but we do have enormous opportunities that are income-producing now in Indiana which create new wealth here. For the farming community, that means more purchasing power, more consumer power -- sort of an engine for growth that is here."

“This is not the end of the recession for Indiana,” he continued. “But these are things that are important to talk about.”

“We have to think about job creation, the people who are actually creating jobs, and the reasons they do so. This is sort of ‘boots on the ground’ out here in Northwest Indiana.”

The senator then pointed out education’s role and, in particular, community colleges’ role, within the economy’s recovery. “What is the small integral part of education that might be necessary that might get somebody into the job loop? You go on to higher education, and you go on to courses.”

“I have a lot of hope, and I’m glad that you asked me to share that with you today,” he concluded.

After speaking to the crowd, the Senator asked the audience for concerns they had about any topic. He candidly answered questions regarding manufacturing’s role in today’s economy, the national deficit, the trend of political turnover among the House of Representatives and the Senate, and concerns over the rise in China’s military presence in the Southeast.

It was a great educational and interactive program put on by the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, bringing this special guest to Valparaiso! Before the senator spoke, Chamber President Rex Richards also thanked Mary Elisabeth Pitz from Mary Elisabeth Pitz & Associates for playing a key role in bringing Senator Lugar in to speak.

Special thanks also go out to the presenting sponsors: Centier Bank, Frontier Communications, and Teachers Credit Union, along with program sponsor Family Express.