History of the La Porte Economic Advancement Foundation
In 1982, the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce initiated a project to provide a mechanism for structured economic growth in the La Porte area. This was the result of a realization that a long-term program for industrial and retail growth needed to be developed in order to enable La Porte to market itself aggressively. Consensus of the need for such a program was reached at the Chamber’s Leadership Retreat held in August of 1982.
The La Porte Economic Advancement Foundation’s (LEAF) main focus is the retention and expansion of existing industry and the recruitment of new manufacturers. A second goal is the retention and recruitment of wholesale, commercial and retail establishments. Making sure the essential government services for industry and commercial businesses are ample is a third goal.
LEAF was initially designed as a five-year program. LEAF’s original objective was to generate 750 new La Porte-area jobs. Since its inception, LEAF has facilitated the creation of approximately 2,340 jobs and $160 million in capital investment.
In response to a concern related to literacy skills among area workers, LEAF in October of 1997 created the Open Door Reading & Writing Center. This education center was developed in cooperation with Kankakee Valley Workforce Development Center and Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO).
In 2004 the Open Door Reading and Writing Program was turned over to the A.K. Smith Center of the Michigan City School Corporation.
In 2006 , it was determined that if the old Allis Chalmers Brown Field sight was to be developed, funding was going to be a necessity for planning, land purchases, environmental issues and the overall development of the property. LEAF and representatives from the City of La Porte brought together a collalition of local Banks that would invest in the development of the property. LEAF contributed $250,000 that was matched by NIPSCO with the Banks contributing another $250,000. The new organization that was started by this partnership is the La Porte Community Development Partnership Corporation. (LPCDP).
The Chamber and LEAF along with the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2012, realized that there was a need for the City of La Porte to have a Main Street program for the future development of the downtown area. A partnership was formed with the City of La Porte, Urban Enterprise Zone, GLEDC and the B ID District to hire a Downtown Manager to further develop the cultural and economic renew of the downtown.
The La Porte Economic Advancement Foundation also serves as the umbrella organization for the Downtown La Porte Main Street Program. Through the Office of Community & Rural Affairs, Downtown La Porte is an official Indiana Main Street community and houses a Downtown Coordinator that focuses on the four point approach to downtown revitalization and community volunteerism. The Downtown Coordinator administers the Main Street program and focuses efforts on volunteerism, sustaining and creating new events & programs and more.
Our Annual Report from 1930 when the Luncheon was held at the Civic Auditorium.