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Updated: Aug 27, 2020


Three Northwest Indiana chambers – Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce, Duneland Chamber of Commerce and Gary Chamber of Commerce – discussed the resources they provide to their members and how they themselves are adapting as a chamber during this pandemic.


By: Rocio Villaseñor


Northwest Indiana chambers of commerce are still adapting to the changes the pandemic has brought.


According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce business impact survey findings released on April 23, 56 percent of nearly 1,400 business leaders ranked the impact on their own business at eight, nine or ten on a scale of one to ten. The biggest effects from the survey findings were: revenue loss at 80 percent, cash flow concerns at 51 percent, suspended operations at 34 percent and employee layoffs at 32 percent.


Duneland Chamber of Commerce


Maura Durham, president of Duneland Chamber of Commerce, said in a telephone interview that

“there was a huge learning curve that came with the coronavirus.” Not only for small businesses, but office businesses as well in that they had to start utilizing or upgrading their technology more.


Durham said when the pandemic began, they provided a COVID-19 resources landing page on their website like all other business member organizations. She said they partnered with other organizations and chambers in providing loans and grants information like the Porter County United Way and the Indiana Small Business Development Center if members needed financial advice. “We just really try to help connect businesses with the specific resources that they’re looking for...to make sure that businesses [who] were going to be affected also have that information.”


The Duneland Chamber of Commerce represents five towns: Chesterton, Porter, Beverly Shores, Burns Harbor and Dune Acres. They are geographically located, but have members from neighboring counties like Lake County and La Porte County. As well as neighboring states like Illinois and Michigan. They currently have 416 members.


Durham added that she has not heard of any of the members going out of business. “I hear more of the professionals that have chosen to retire earlier than expected.”


When the stay-at-home order was put into place, they received daily calls Durham said. Most of the calls were focused on chamber events if they were canceled or postponed. She said they had a large-scale event the weekend prior the stay-at-home order called “Corkscrew and Brew,” and it is now rescheduled to November. “We had many calls with was going on and then that led to or conversation on how other businesses we’re going to handle it.”


Durham said there were calls coming in about any businesses hiring since many individuals were laid off due to coronavirus. She said chambers as a whole were helping on the hiring side by putting individuals in contact with businesses that needed people. They also keep advertising on their Facebook page if any local businesses are hiring. “I think it is a huge benefit in the community to have a constant promoter and cheerleader urging these businesses to continue to fight to be here.”


The chamber also provides information of any grants or loans available on their Facebook page. She is not aware how many members have received COVID relief assistance. Durham said that they as a chamber were not able to apply for Paycheck Protection Program, PPP, loan because they are a 501 c 6 organization. Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce Patena also echoed this.


Durham said that the pandemic strengthened the chamber’s mission and vision. They were able to focus on their programs value to their members and the community. “It just makes the chamber a stronger organization to have to critically look at the programs that we choose to do.”


The chamber continues to face challenges because of the pandemic. Durham shared that not being able to qualify for the PPP loan is a struggle. She said they had to cancel and postpone networking events like other chambers. This was an impact to their revenue streams because chambers depend on them along with membership dues and advertising to keep the chamber afloat. Durham said they are trying to balance making sure they keep their staff employed and knowing that some of their member businesses “are not going to be able to participate and sponsor” some of the community and business events.


Durham said there are two parts to the chamber: community impact programs and events, and the business-to-business events. She said for the business-to-business events they have been doing a lot of Zoom meetings like virtual coffee with the chamber.


The chamber also has one of the largest outdoor markets called the Chesterton European Market. It is every Saturday from 8:00am to 2:00pm. In previous years, the market has brough in up to 1,500 people on a given Saturday. The market is actually limiting capacity to 250 people at the time, and having 40 vendors and live music. They also have mask requirements and social distancing. Durham said they are making sure they are still providing an opportunity for members businesses to continue to thrive or at least maintain their business in this economy.


Durham shared that she was unaware if any of her members took the state’s business impact survey.



Read about Crossroads Regional Chamber and Gary Chamber

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Updated: Aug 27, 2020


Three Northwest Indiana chambers – Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce, Duneland Chamber of Commerce and Gary Chamber of Commerce – discussed the resources they provide to their members and how they themselves are adapting as a chamber during this pandemic.


By: Rocio Villaseñor

The Daily 219 News Correspondent


Northwest Indiana chambers of commerce are still adapting to the changes the pandemic has brought.


According to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce business impact survey findings released on April 23, 56 percent of nearly 1,400 business leaders ranked the impact on their own business at eight, nine or ten on a scale of one to ten. The biggest effects from the survey findings were: revenue loss at 80 percent, cash flow concerns at 51 percent, suspended operations at 34 percent and employee layoffs at 32 percent.


Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce


The Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce officially came into being in January 2010.after a merger of the Crown Point and Merrillville chambers.


The Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce is the largest chamber of commerce in Lake County with around 650 members currently. The bulk of its members are from Crown Point and Merrillville, but also from Chicago and Michigan City.


Deann Patena, president and chief executive officer of Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce, said in a telephone interview she did not know if any of her members took the business impact survey. She shared the chamber is in the process of doing their own survey.

According to an NWI Times article from January, when Patena became president and CEO, she wanted the chamber to be the largest in Northwest Indiana and that her only goal for the chamber was growth. Patena said the pandemic has not changed this. “We still plan to grow our membership.”


Patena said none of the chamber’s members have called to tell her they have gone out of business and need to drop their membership.


She added that the chamber does not offer any financial support to its members. But they do offer other types of support on their Facebook page and website like: providing COVID-19 resource guide of grants and loans available for small businesses, informing members of remote business owners workshops, hosting webinars on crisis marketing/networking/property taxes, Zoom chamber meetings, and virtual coffee and community events. She added that they have not done Zoom meetings currently.


Patena said they continue to promote businesses and members through social media and email. “We just tried to assist by doing a lot of social media effort without charging for it. We post their offers and specials. Pretty much help market their business in any we could.”


She said that the pandemic has not changed any of the chamber’s goals. They just had to pivot and adjust their budget for the end of the year.


They have collaborated with other chambers during the pandemic. Patena said that like all other chambers and organizations, they had to close their doors to the public in March. They have their office open currently, but only receiving visits by appointment only. She added that due to the stay-at-home order they had to cancel or postpone networking events for the next few months. “We haven’t really been able to do a lot of the same things we would have done in the past.”


They canceled the Annual Corn Roast they have in Crown Point every year in June and their Business Expos in May. They will have them next year 2021. According to the chamber’s Facebook page, in July they had their first ballpark outing since March at the Railcats Stadium in Gary with post-chamber ambassadors.


Patena said the chamber is moving forward with several events. The Annual Golf Outing Sponsorship at Youche Country Club for August 26, which will be limited in attendance. The other one is the “Cheers to 10 Years” Annual Gala at the Avalon Banquet Center on November 21.



Read about the Duneland Chamber of Commerce and the Gary Chamber of Commerce

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Over the past three days, Lake County had 83 new cases added to the county's tally of positive coronavirus cases, while Porter County saw 22 more, and LaPorte added 25 new cases. Jasper and Newton counties each reported three more COVID-19 cases.


The Indiana State Department of Health reported 13 new deaths statewide on Friday, bringing Indiana's total to 2,992 deaths. Statewide, 1,050 new cases were reported, bringing the state total to 84,317.

With The East Chicago schools going to e-learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, the school board unanimously approved to reduce staff. The cuts are in transportation, janitorial security and paraprofessional staff.


Superintendent Dee-Etta Wright said the 90 layoffs are intended to be temporary while the school city operates in a virtual learning instructional model for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

The private manager of Gary Community Schools received initial approval Thursday for a new two-year contract, worth potentially $7.4 million in state funds, to continue turnaround efforts in the cash-strapped, academically struggling district.


Members of the state Distressed Unit Appeal Board unanimously approved the contract extension for Florida-based MGT Consulting, the company hired by the state three years ago to oversee the district.


DUAB chairman Justin McAdam said the contract does not increase the pay to MGT, from the last year of its initial contract.

The contract’s total base compensation is $5.5 million plus an additional $1.9 million, if the manager can achieve each of the more than 40 benchmarks in the areas of academics, fiscal, operations and engagement.

The Hammond Career Center, the only school in the Hammond School District to open with in-person learning has reported a student with COVID-19 may have made two others sick on just the first day of class.


Despite a ban on carpooling, three students drove to classes together on day one at the Career center Wednesday. That night one of the three felt sick and now has a confirmed case of COVID-19. One of the other two is said to have symptoms. The third has no symptoms.

The School was only open for two days and now it is closed.

Hoosier voters are less likely to have their mail-in absentee ballot rejected, or find their voter registration purged without notice. This follows rulings by federal judges Thursday in two separate election law cases.


The decisions each strike down state laws aimed at minimizing voter fraud. However, it was determined that they were more likely to prevent legitimate voters from participating in the electoral process.

According to the Times of Northwest Indiana, The Lake County Commissioners unanimously approved a rewrite of the county's tax sale rules Wednesday to prevent participation by straw purchasers, tax scofflaws and other unwelcome bidders.


The sale is an auction of properties whose owners are behind on tax payments, which allows the county to recoup otherwise lost revenue and potentially enables winning bidders to take ownership of the properties.


In 2019, a serially tax-delinquent real estate speculator, and other straw buyers, allegedly purchased more than 500 property tax certificates on behalf of a newly formed corporate entity in apparent violation of the tax sales rules in effect at the time.

If you are not registered to vote in Indiana, you have until Oct. 5. You can register online at Indianavoters.In. gov.


You can also register by mail by printing a voter registration form, filling it out, and mailing it to your local election office. You can also register to vote in person at your election office.

To register in Indiana you must:

· be a citizen of the United States

· have resided in the precinct at least 30 days before the next election

· be at least 18 years of age on the day of the next general election

· not currently be imprisoned following a criminal conviction