Economic development in Porter County is expanding at a rapid rate. Portage, Chesterton and Valparaiso have all placed an emphasis on smart planning that delivers exactly what the current and potential residents want in their city or town.
ValparaisoâVibrant and Visionary
Valparaisoâs slogan is a philosophy that continues to be implemented throughout the community.
âMy family has been small business owners in this town over 40 years,â says Mayor Jon Costas. âThat helps me have a feel for what our residents want from their town and their downtown.â
During the past 12 years, the Valparaiso downtown has experienced a renaissance centered on the creation of the Central Park Plaza. The city garnered national attention when the American Planning Association recognized the plaza as a Great Public Space in 2016.
âWe want to create and retain the sense of inclusion and ownership that comes with a public square,â Costas explains. âOur initial designs focused on that aspect. Itâs been a major success, and our residents provide positive feedback about the renovations to downtown.â
Small businesses have flocked to Valparaiso and filled the streets that surround the public square. A stroll down the corridors reveals a mixture of restaurants with outdoor cafÃ©s, retail shops, boutiques, candy makers, a brewery, and the Valpo Velvet ice cream shop.
Stability has been key to Valparaisoâs downtown success. Whenever there is an opening in a building, new businesses fill it quickly. Most of the shop owners are local people, which contributes to the overall smooth continuance.
The bottom line is how residents and visiting consumers are attracted to what Valpo has to offer.
âVisitors and residents vote with their dollars,â Costas says. âNot just a political vote, but a consumer one. If they didnât like the direction the downtown has taken, businesses would be going under. The exact opposite is true.â
The mayor credits the townâs welcoming, inclusive attitude as a major reason for their commercial success.
âValparaiso University is a diverse school,â Costas says. âIt provides us with a constant opportunity to practice what we preach. So far, so good.â
Chesterton has made technology, medical facilities, and planned residential growth a focal point they define as âsmart growth.â
âOur emphasis is on a combination of all three,â explains town manager Bernie Doyle. âThe Symphony of Chesterton is a state-of-the-art advanced care and independent living facility. We will see groundbreaking of two new independent living complexes: StoryPoint and Residences of Coffee Creek.â
In addition, Franciscan Health has expanded its stand-alone Emergency Department to include open MRI and an urgent…