Thursday, December 28, 2017

Hidden Gem: Aerial Yoga at Beyond Zen

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Thursday, December 28, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

When you’re getting your “om” on and taking some time for mindful breathing, have you ever wished that you were completely supported in a suspended cocoon? Or to fly through the air like Superman?
You’re in luck – Beyond Zen offers Aerial Yoga at their Granger studio. Aerial Yoga combines traditional pilates and yoga poses with the help of a hammock suspended from the ceiling. The use of the hammock allows you to breathe deeper into stretches as you’re fully supported when doing downward facing dog, flying yogi and warrior poses throughout the hour-long class. The practice at Beyond Zen is also highly personalized as there are only five hammocks in the classroom leaving you with one-on-one opportunities with the instructor as she helps you feel comfortable with the hammock and makes sure you’re performing the moves correctly. Read More.
So grab some friends and make an evening of it. The schedule and pricing information is available on the Beyond Zen website. 
Have you been to Aerial Yoga? We want to see your photos! Tweet or Instagram 
@YPNSouthBend and share your photos using #YPNtalk!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Hidden Gem: Winding Brook Park Christmas Lights

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Monday, December 18, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Why walk through a winter wonderland when you can drive? That’s right. You can enjoy bright lights, unique displays, and a beautiful winter night without leaving the warmth of your car. Where is this magical place? Winding Brook Park, located off East Day Road in Mishawaka.

Since 1962, every December Winding Brook Park residents have been encouraged to decorate their houses with beautiful light displays that brightens hearts of all ages. After driving through the entryway, you will immediately be filled with holiday spirit. Due to its popularity (more than 20,000 people pass through every season!), the traffic is slow but that just gives you extra time to take in the magic. You’ll see everything from classic white lights illuminating a warm glow to a giant display of Santa and his reindeer on a roof. The lights will officially be up on Saturday, December 9 until Christmas evening.

Are you planning on driving through the Christmas lights at Winding Brook? We want to see your photos! Tweet or Instagram @YPNSouthBend and share your photos using #YPNtalk!

Five New Year's Resolutions for Young Professionals in 2018

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Monday, December 18, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Every year it’s the same. At some point between stuffing yourself with Thanksgiving dinner and opening holiday gifts, you plan your annual New Year’s resolutions. If you’re one of the 41 percent of Americans who usually make them, then you probably know there are few things in life as frustratingly elusive as following through on a New Year’s resolution.

For the young professional, we’ve devised five resolutions to help you become a better professional and a better citizen in 2018 – and even included some tips to make following through a little easier.



Are you looking to boost your mental and physical well being in 2018? Those who volunteer have lower rates of depression and lower mortality rates according the Corporation for National and Community Service. Beyond your own personal health, sharing your time and talents helps to strengthen your community and potentially transform lives. For a list of some local volunteer opportunities visit the YPN Volunteer page.

TIP: Put it on your calendar. Don't wait for a free hour or two to magically appear in your schedule, plan it out. When you treat your resolution as an appointment, you're more likely to follow through.


It’s never too soon to start taking your finances seriously. You should be saving 10 to 15 percent of your income for retirement according to many financial experts. If that sounds out of reach, try taking smaller steps like committing to taking full advantage of your employer’s 401(k) match or paying off specific debts that have been hanging over your head. Canceling subscriptions and setting aside that money for savings is another less painful way to save more in 2018.

TIP: A little goes a long way. Don’t stress if you can’t set aside as much time or resources as you’d originally hoped. Something is better than nothing. 



For a resolution that’s sure to make you and the planet happier for years to come, try recycling. When you reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, you’re not only conserving valuable natural resources, but you’re also helping to prevent pollution and sustaining the environment for future generations. For St. Joseph County residents, a mandated curbside recycling program has made it easier than ever to pick up the habit. Visit the St. Joseph County Solid Waste Management website for more details.

TIP: Make SMART goals. When you’re creating your resolutions it’s crucial to make specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals.



Whether you’re looking to get an advantage on your resume or simply want to know a few catchphrases for your next trip abroad, learning a new language is an enriching experience. Acquiring another language builds up brain power, improving your memory and increasing your attention span. Some research even indicated that bilingualism can delay the effects of Alzheimer’s for years.  These days there are many digital tools to make learning a new language not only simple, but fun too. Duolingo, a free, fun and science-based language-learning tool is a great place to start.  

TIP: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. When working to achieve your resolution, remember that making lasting changes takes time. Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t immediately reach the finish line. 



Struggling in what appears to be a dead-end position? There’s nothing like a new year to spark a job search. Commit to finding a company with a culture that aligns with your lifestyle and don’t settle for less. Take small steps like updating your resume, beefing up your presence on LinkedIn and reconnecting with friends in the industry for a start. When your career gives you energy instead of draining you, you’ll know you’ve found the right fit.

TIP: Use the buddy system. The best way to hold yourself accountable to meeting your resolutions is to share your goals. The support of family and friends when you’re trying something new is crucial. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cap on Property Taxes a Balancing Act

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (1)

The Indiana General Assembly reacted to protests from voters over rising property tax bills and in 2008 placed property tax caps into law. The caps limit tax bills to 1 percent of the assessed value of homes, 2 percent for farms and rental properties and 3 percent for businesses.

In 2010, voters affirmed that action of the General Assembly by statewide referendum as 72 percent voted in favor of placing the caps into the Indiana Constitution.

The predicted result was homeowners, landlords and businesses would save significant money. Several years later, that has held true and Indiana has vaulted to the front of most business rankings, boasting the best business climate in the Midwest and one of the tops in the country. This is in large part because of the “certainty” that exists in the Indiana tax system.

At the same time, the action has left many state and local government units scrambling. Initial predictions were that there would be more than $500 million in annual savings to the taxpayers statewide, meaning fewer dollars available to governments for the delivery of essential services.

Many lawmakers felt local governments would consider consolidation options, including reducing the number of school or library districts and consolidating emergency dispatch services. Across Indiana, communities have been slow to follow that thinking with just few consolidations occurring.

In St. Joseph and Lake counties, an additional 10 years were granted for full property tax cap implementation to help the counties better deal with outstanding debt obligations. Still, 2017 estimates by the Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) had $78 million in total savings to the taxpayers.

The City of South Bend, St. Joseph County, the City of Mishawaka, and the South Bend Community School Corporation were hit hardest. Other school corporations, libraries and public transportation agencies also saw major cuts in revenue. Those units are also bracing for more losses when full implementation comes in 2020.

I’m one who has benefited. My property taxes are now lower. But am I better off? The jury is still out on that one.

In St. Joseph County, no consolidations have occurred, and there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for that. Instead the level of services has or will be affected.

It seems daily in the news that taxpayers are wondering about police protection, leaf collection, street paving, soon snow plowing, park services, public transportation, 911 services, the number of students in a classroom, the number of schools in a system or school transportation. I could go on.

The cap of property taxes has a direct correlation to the delivery of each of those services. The same public, of which an overwhelming majority voted for tax caps, has been slow to embrace changes in service levels. It will only get more difficult in the coming years.

While our elected leaders are reducing service levels to meet current budget demands, they must also carefully balance the need to make our communities attractive for new people and businesses. Something must give.

We can’t tax or cut our way to prosperity. We have to find the right balance and must be quicker to embrace change. After all we demanded it in 2008 and affirmed it in 2010.

Also published in the South Bend Tribune

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

'Tis the Season: What to Do in Our Winter Wonderland

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

From finding the perfect tree to decorate and wrapping presents for loved ones, there is so much do each holiday season. When the calendar flips from November to December, it can be hard to find a spare moment to relax, but make sure you pencil in some of these fun holiday-themed events. 


Santa Claus is Coming to Town 


He sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake … that’s probably because he seems to be everywhere in the South Bend Region at once! Grab a camera and take your kids, pets or friends to one of the many Santas in the area for the perfect Christmas photos.

Downtown South Bend
Santa returns to the Gridiron in downtown South Bend on Friday, December 1 for the tree lighting ceremony! Festivities begin around 5:00 p.m. with Santa arriving around 6:30 p.m. to light the tree. Make sure to stick around for the fireworks afterwards and remember to look for Santa in the little red and white house next to the South Bend Chocolate Café. Even better, he’ll be there on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout December. Don’t forget to bring your camera to take as many photos as you’d like with Santa. Kids will receive a candy cane and an “I Believe” sticker from the big man himself, which gets them a complimentary chocolate bar inside the Café and discounts at 16 downtown businesses. You’ll also meet Rudolph and the Grinch at South Bend Chocolate!

University Park Mall
Jolly old Saint Nicholas is at University Park Mall through December 24, with a special private Santa event for children and young adults with special needs on Sunday, December 3. Bring your favorite four-legged friend to meet Santa on Pet Night from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 10. 

Meet Santa while enjoying a cup of hot cocoa, watching a free screening of the movie Elf, ice skating and creating holiday crafts at Mishawaka Winterfest on Saturday, December 9 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. He’ll return for the Battell Community Center’s Holiday Fun Night 
on December 23 at 5:30 p.m. Stick around for a free screening of The Polar Express at 7:00 p.m.


O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!


If you’re more into conifers and lights this holiday season, there are a number of tree lighting events and Christmas lights trails for you to get into the holiday spirit. South Bend is celebrating First Fridays with Downtown for the Holidays on Friday, December 1 – in addition to the parade and Santa’s Arrival the tree at Jon R. Hunt Plaza will be lit for the first time. If you miss the tree lighting on Friday, you’ll have another chance to see one at University Park Mall on Saturday, December 2! It’s hosting its first ever tree lighting from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Head out to Elkhart’s Wellfield Botanical Gardens to see the Winter Holiday Lights now through December 30. The ½ mile Promenade Pathway is aglow with professional light displays that accentuate the natural beauty of Wellfield. Hot Chocolate is complimentary and crackling fire pits stationed around the Garden trails will keep you warm and toasty. 

Layer on the scarves and gloves for the Historic Holiday Walking Tour in downtown South Bend on Sunday, December 3 to see some of South Bend’s oldest homes and businesses. Many will have holiday decorations including the Copshaholm, the Oliver Mansion, which has 38 decorated rooms, and ten Christmas trees throughout the house. They’re offering tours on Sundays, December 3 and 10 and reservations are recommended.

You can also catch holiday floats and walking units on Michigan Street at Downtown South Bend’s Holiday Light Parade on Friday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m.


All We Want For Christmas Is You (To Attend Some Holiday Shows)

Once you’ve shared your Christmas list with Santa and trekked through the cold to see Christmas lights, you’ll probably be ready to relax in some warmth. Instead of listening to holiday tunes on the radio at your house, head on out to some of South Bend’s local venues to hear some holiday classics live!

One of the big three boy bands from the late 90s and early 2000s, 98°, is back with a Christmas album and is touring the country this holiday season. You can catch them at The Lerner Theater in Elkhart on Wednesday, December 13.

If you’re looking for more of a classic theater going experience, the perennial holiday movie A Christmas Story has been adapted to the stage and runs from December 1 to 23 at the South Bend Civic Theater. The Nutcracker Ballet comes to the Morris Performing Arts Center December 9 - 10 Chorus. And South Bend’s favorite holiday musical tradition returns December 16 - 17 when the South Bend Symphony Orchestra performs Home for the Holidays


Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

And finally, what’s better than a snowball fight to get you into the holiday mood? Kids of all ages are invited to take part in a friendly community snowball fight on the Gridiron on Saturday, December 23 at 2:00 p.m. If there’s no snow on the ground, fake snowballs will be provided to keep the fun going. 

For more holiday fun, check out Visit South Bend Mishawaka's calendar of events.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Support South Bend Schools' Focus 2018

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, November 22, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (0)

Last week, the South Bend Community School Corporation released its Focus 2018 plan that includes new grade configurations, new bell times for all levels and the closing and repurposing of several schools. I’m hoping the community rallies around this plan and supports the efforts leaders are making to improve the school system.

Businesses do things like this all the time. To stay competitive, it’s a requirement, not an option. Businesses must carefully analyze customer wants and needs and pivot to meet those needs or risk going out of business. Though it’s unlikely the school corporation would go out of business, it does need to make critical changes to better position itself among increasing competition.

The business community has a strong interest in what’s happening within the school corporation. In addition to preparing students for success in life, the corporation is also preparing students for success in their careers. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workers.

Companies today are tuned into workers and either finding, attracting or developing top talent for their organizations. Companies realize how important a strong educational foundation is for a student and how that foundation will help influence success in the workforce.

The business community has partnered with the schools on Project Lead the Way and Manufacturing Day, and supported schools through financial contributions and volunteer commitments for things like classroom programming, extracurricular activities and building and facility improvements.

Good work by the corporation is critical to our region’s economic development efforts. Good schools are key to efforts to attract new people and new businesses to our region. It often is the top factor when people are considering a community.

We’ve long been concerned about the South Bend School Corporation and its performance. We know meaningful changes must be made within the system and that those changes will result in hard decisions to remain competitive with other school districts.

The business community recognizes that the educational landscape requires change now. We believe the Focus 2018 plan is bold and fiscally responsible. We believe it will improve student achievement, maximize instructional effectiveness, maintain racial diversity and address changing community demographics.

There will be opposition. We’ve already heard from some parents and students with concerns. It is impossible to develop a plan that 100 percent of the people will support. The school board must carefully weigh the pros and cons.

We believe waiting is not an option and will only cause the corporation and the students in it to fall further behind. We want South Bend to be a leader and we are convinced that changes like these will position the corporation for future success.

All feedback is submitted anonymously with the option to include your name. To submit feedback online, please click here.

Also published in the South Bend Tribune

Thursday, November 9, 2017

County Looking for Ways to Attract & Grow Business

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (0)

My daughter and I were talking homework last week. She’s tackling high school chemistry, which brought back memories of the periodic table and chemical formulas. I liked the subject — you can say it was in my genes. I have a family full of pharmacists who all mastered it much better than me.

I chose a different path, and though you won’t see me mixing chemicals or working in a lab, I do spend a lot of time trying to figure out the right formula for economic development success. In the lab, we at least know that when we put two parts hydrogen with one part oxygen, we have water. Add too much or too little of either of those elements, and you end up with something different. In economic development, it’s a little less precise and could be different for every region.

Economic development professionals realize you need to attract new businesses to an area, grow the businesses already here, and create an environment conducive to people starting businesses. But they also know that you need things like good infrastructure, quality schools, a skilled workforce, and other quality of place amenities. Finding the right formula of those elements for a region is key.

A recent Tribune article included unfair shots at the county for its economic development efforts in the New Carlisle industrial area. The article quoted critics of the county effort to attract “big fish” into that area. The writers referenced “outside experts” with a limited view of the overall county economic development efforts to further criticize the effort.

I do think if all efforts were focused on “smokestack chasing,” then the criticism could be warranted. But like in the laboratory, the county realizes that those “big fish” are only one element of an overall strategy that requires many different elements to attract new people, companies and new capital investment.

In the New Carlisle industrial area, the county is advancing plans to ready key parcels for development. When I/N Tek and I/N Kote developed in that area more than 25 years ago, leaders at the time envisioned that development could be a catalyst for other opportunities. That area has been slow to develop, because many of those things the county is now tackling were never undertaken.

The uncertainty that exists in that area related to the control of the land, zoning and other site characteristics slowed development and were major factors in decisions like those of Toyota to seek an opportunity elsewhere. The more uncertainty that exists related to the development of a site, the less likely that site is to secure a new development.

In the past two years, 78 percent of all companies looking at the overall area sought an existing building or a shovel-ready site. This area has neither, which moves it out of consideration quickly for new development opportunities.

This part of the county is well-suited for those large manufacturing operations. Other areas of the county are better suited for warehousing and logistics, office, tech, start-ups, healthcare or housing. And efforts exist to attract those types of development as well. Leaders in the county and the municipalities contained therein realize they can’t have all their eggs in one basket.

Each community in our region is an important element to our formula for success. Each complements the overall effort, with each providing its own strengths related to attracting different kinds of development. Individually, none succeed. Collectively, if we figure out the right formula, we at least have a fighting chance as we compete with other parts of the country and world.

Also published in the South Bend Tribune

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Things that Go Bump in the Night: Imposter Syndrome and How to Fight It

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

It’s the time of year when ghosts and ghouls are everywhere to be found, when witches fly by the moon and Hocus Pocus is playing on repeat on the Freeform channel, so we’re here to tell you about one of the scariest things that you may come across in your career: Imposter Syndrome.

Think of imposter syndrome like a vampire – it vants to suck your self-confidence replacing it with self-doubt. It’s the monster sitting on your shoulder telling you that everything you know is wrong and you’re in way over your head … and it’s fairly common with as many as 70% of high-achievers reporting that they’ve felt this way before.

To be able to help banish these negative thoughts, it helps to understand what really is happening with Imposter Syndrome. It’s not a newly made up diagnosis that was created just for millennials, it’s actually been around since 1978 when two researchers at Georgia State University coined the term in an academic paper when studying high-achieving women. It being 2017, though, we understand that this isn’t just a phenomenon affecting women and we can all suffer from it.  But how can we shove that monster back into the closet like we will all the other Halloween decorations next week? Here are five tips to help beat that baddie back: 



As we said above, while it was originally believed that imposter syndrome only affects high achieving females, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t and that it’s nearly ubiquitous in the work force. Take comfort in the fact that your boss has probably felt imposter syndrome before, as has the person who sits next to you, and the person down the hall. Knowing that you aren’t alone can help you speak up for reassurance from your boss that you’re doing what you need to do.




Having a strong support system that knows you and knows your work will only help in the long run. Oftentimes Imposter Syndrome strikes because we fear that we aren’t as qualified to do a task and friends and mentors can help put into perspective that even if something is a reach, we are perfectly capable of handling it based on our successful track record.



Halloween is a time to put on costumes and act like someone else for a night, and that’s good practice when dealing with Imposter Syndrome too. How would you act in that meeting if you felt confident that you know what you’re doing and deserve to be in that room? Go into that meeting and do that.



Work is busy and there’s always something to do and even a person who is overly attentive to every detail will make a mistake. If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, it’s easy to make every mistake into a mountain when in reality it’s probably much closer to a molehill. Own it and apologize and work to make sure that it never happens again – in time, it’s likely that you’ll be the only one who will remember that incident in the office. Don’t let one mistake kill your confidence, and don’t give into the idea that that mistake will define your career.



If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome because you’ve recently gotten a promotion or taken on a new role, be up front with your supervisor or a mentor about what you’re most concerned with. Ask them for advice about situations or seek out personal development courses online, in the community or through your Human Resources departments. Bonus points if you’re open with your team and ask for their help in clarifying something you don’t understand fully – it will help build good will with them and foster more of a team environment rather than a solely one-way street between a boss and employee.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

South Bend Needs to Think Big or Get Left Behind

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO Comments (0)

The regions we are competing with are thinking big. They are making key decisions to position themselves to beat us. They want to attract the talent we are seeking. They want the companies we believe would be a good fit here. And they wouldn’t mind stealing a few of our existing employers or top employees.

We’ve got to keep pace. That includes maintaining what we’ve got and attracting new people and companies to help grow our economy. New housing and job opportunities will help. Better schools, strong neighborhoods, quality entertainment and recreation opportunities all contribute. Quality of place improvements, like those in the Regional Cities program, should spark population growth.

Our investment in infrastructure is also an important factor. Enhancements to U.S. 31, U.S. 20 and Interstate 80/90 all play a big part in getting people to and from our area. The airport plays a vital role because of its easy connections to major markets in the United States and around the world. And rail will play an increased role in the future in the movement of both freight and people.

Our business community believes passenger rail could be a big advantage in our effort to compete as a quick connection to one of the largest economies of the world. The South Shore railroad has plans for several improvements that will get a trip from South Bend to Chicago down to 90 minutes by 2020. The trip currently takes 2 hours and 20 minutes.

I believe 90 minutes is key. When analyzing commuting patterns and the type of businesses and people that have been attracted to areas within 90 minutes of major metropolitan areas, I think it can be a game changer for our area.

I hope people who live in Chicago will work here, and people who live here can work in Chicago. A quicker ride means a better connection to arts, entertainment and cultural opportunities that exist in the Chicago area.

As the project details are developing, neighbors near the South Bend airport — current home to the eastern most South Shore station — have reacted to the uncertainty and attempted to put the brakes on the project. The neighbors wonder if the 10 minutes of time savings are worth it at the cost of relocating some homes west of the airport. If all the communities along the way took similar approaches, we would never get to 90 minutes and never realize the full potential.

City officials have now pressed pause, too, and gone back to the drawing board with consideration of relocating the South Shore station either downtown, near the Honeywell factory south of the airport or another location. I was just in Washington, D.C., and fear this latest uncertainty could impact our ability to tap into federal funds.

Downtown gets studied every few years. We anticipate it will be ruled out again as it has been many times before because it’s cost prohibitive. The Honeywell location isn’t ideal either, for the same reasons the nearby Amtrak location isn’t ideal. That location isn’t as easy to get to and presents limited development opportunities near the proposed station.

I think the airport is a good fit for the South Shore station. I believe the development opportunities available to the west of airport are a real advantage and ultimately makes the project about more than just moving people back and forth. Like our competition is doing, we have to think big about this once-a-generation opportunity and move forward.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ttrip to DC Worth the Effort

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Monday, October 16, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (0)

Last week I visited Capitol Hill. I try to go out to Washington, D.C., at least annually to connect with our legislators and their staffs and visit about issues important to businesses in our region. This year, I was joined by about 100 other business leaders from throughout Indiana.

Major policy issues like tax reform, trade, health care and infrastructure topped our agenda. We arrived during the launch of the tax reform discussion and on the heels of the latest breakdown of health care reform talks. Though health care is stalled, we’re hopeful tax reform moves forward yet this year and that in early 2018 Congress does something with infrastructure.

We haven’t run into anyone that loves the current tax code and system. I think there is general consensus from both sides of the aisle that improvements are necessary. Early drafts have inspired some strong feelings about who might benefit most from changes. The devil will be in the details, and the months ahead will inspire passionate debate about where those best fixes are located. In the end, we are hopeful meaningful reform moves forward.

Infrastructure is high on our priority list. On the day we visited, U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, along with U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, were sharing with President Donald Trump the importance of Indiana projects that include the South Shore Railroad upgrades that would lead to economic growth in northwest and northcentral Indiana. The South Shore double track project and the airport relocation project remain top priorities of the local business community. Federal help will be needed to accomplish the goal of a 90-minute South Shore commute from South Bend to Chicago, and vice versa, by 2020.

The trade discussion is a little like tax reform. Most would agree some improvements to the current system are necessary. With Americans able to consume only about 5 percent of what we produce, trade is vital to the success of our businesses.

During our visit we also discussed immigration, business regulations, national security and the deficit.

Some wonder whether such a trip is worth the time and energy. Congress has low approval ratings and people are increasingly frustrated by the partisan bickering that can dominate the news. Will they listen? Will they be able to come together to work on any meaningful legislation? Does my opinion matter?

I’m convinced it does and it’s worth the trip. I plan to go each time I have the opportunity. I’m still in awe of the history and love to see the places I’ve heard so much about since my early days of history class. Each time I’m there, I learn new things about the men and women who have worked hard to advance the interests of our country.

Our local contingent of Rep. Walorski, Sen. Donnelly and Sen. Young have each been generous with their time and all seemed happy to see and hear from friends back home.

All three have talented teams around them too. I’m amazed by the knowledge of both our legislators and their staffs on very complex issues. I don’t know how they keep it all straight.

Also Published in the South Bend Tribune

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Five Ways to Better Your LinkedIn Profile

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)



profile, but rather to share relevant information in their industry for some time now, but it’s probably the social network that you think of the least when deciding where to post updates about your life. The rolodex network can be useful for more than just finding your next job, it’s a great place for professional growth and improving your online presence. Just remember, that you get out what you put into your LinkedIn profile; therefore, it is important to approach LinkedIn strategically. Here are five things you can do today to create a stellar LinkedIn profile.

Go Back to the Basics

Whether or not you are seeking a new job or career change, people are still looking at your profile. Therefore, it is important to keep it updated. Take time to update your current and past job descriptions, update your headline, check for any grammatical errors and update your profile photo. Sometimes, going back to basics is all you need to refresh your online presence.

Personalize your URL

When you set up your profile, the url will read, “” followed by random numbers and letters. However, this can be changed to have your first and last name after the slash. Not only will this look better for cosmetic purposes on your business cards and email signature, but it makes it easier for people to find your profile. To change your URL simply navigate to your profile, go to “edit contact and personal info,” click on the pencil icon and look for the option to change your URL.

Give and Ask for Recommendations

If you have worked with someone who positively impacted your company or a co-worker who led a project, let them know you appreciate them by giving them a recommendation on LinkedIn. Also, if you successfully completed a project, implemented a new program at your company, or are seeking a new job, ask a past or current colleague for a recommendation. Remember to click “allow on my profile” because if you don’t, LinkedIn won’t allow others to see it.

Share Relevant Content

Gone are the days when people used LinkedIn just to have a professional online presence. Still, many people don’t share anything. LinkedIn is a great opportunity to share updates happening in your industry, exciting news for your company or a community event. This is a great way to start a dialogue with your connections and make new connections. As always make sure your content is relevant – keep the cat photos for your personal social media profiles.

Follow Relevant Influencers

LinkedIn allows people all over the world to connect – this includes the opportunity to follow key influencers within your field of work. Want to learn more from your favorite economic development blogger? Have a nonprofit you want to partner with? You can follow them on LinkedIn to receive additional information from them, ask questions and comment on their posts.

There are countless features you can use to better your online professional presence, but start with these five tips and you’re on your way to improving your LinkedIn profile.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Mill at Ironworks Plaza a Key Step Downtown Mishawaka

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (0)

I had the chance last week to attend the groundbreaking at Mill at Ironworks Plaza in downtown Mishawaka. The project is located just south of Beutter Park. Flaherty & Collins, an Indianapolis firm, is developing a 400,000-square-foot mixed-use building that will have commercial space on the first floor, 232 apartments and a parking garage.

Construction will commence in October and should be complete in two years. It is expected to employ about 400 people during construction.

The project will span two vacant city blocks that once housed the former Ball Band/Uniroyal factory. That 2 million-square-foot industrial complex that had employed close to 10,000 people was cleared in the late 1990s to make way for redevelopment opportunities on the site.

The groundbreaking on the Mill at Ironworks Plaza represents the largest development project in downtown Mishawaka since Liberty Mutual relocated a call center there in the early 1980s. This project represents a $45 million investment in downtown.

Mishawaka began planning for the redevelopment of the area shortly after Uniroyal filed bankruptcy in 1991. At the time, an urban, mixed-use, pedestrian friendly and architecturally significant redevelopment project was envisioned. In late 1997, the site was acquired and for the past 20 years the city has been working on executing on that plan.

After the demolition, the city moved forward with the development of Beutter and Kamm Island parks, as well as enhancements to Battell Park, Central Park and Lincoln Park, which are near the site.

In conjunction with those improvements, the Mishawaka Riverwalk was developed to connect each of those amenities. In recent years that 3-mile pedestrian loop has attracted thousands of visitors seeking a great place to run, walk, bike or just gather. Public art and other amenities have been added to enhance the experience along the riverfront.

Other development projects have taken shape on the fringes of the site. Mishawaka renovated the former Main Jr. High into apartments. The former Carnegie Library is currently being renovated for a restaurant use. The Townes at Kamm Island were developed and are currently being expanded. The River Rock Apartments opened earlier this year adjacent to the Riverwalk Condos that were developed in recent years.

Hospice built a new facility in the neighborhood. The former bank building at Main and Mishawaka Avenue was redeveloped into a co-working space called 101Co3. The former Tivoli block was redeveloped. The Mishawaka Food Pantry has done major renovations on the former Studebaker building on Lincoln Way, and several new users have located in the revitalized 100 Center. Many other projects are also being considered in or near downtown.

“Quality of place” are the buzzwords many communities are talking about these days as they recognize the need to build great spaces to help attract people. The Mishawaka project is a great case study for other communities to follow.

Projects like this take a lot of time, planning, patience and resources. The mayor and many city departments, the Redevelopment Commission, the City Council, the Park Board, the Mishawaka Business Association, the neighbors and countless others have all played critical roles.

From the acquisition, demolition, environmental cleanup through the development of the public spaces and the attraction of a developer, Mishawaka has executed on a long, well thought out, comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of a site. That plan has included some significant public investment that in the end has attracted some significant private investment. Watch for the biggest of those private investments to commence shortly.

Also published in the South Bend Tribune.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hidden Gem: La Rosita

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

After a delicious meal, there is nothing better than ice cream with friends and family for dessert. Just beyond downtown South Bend sits a family-owned ice cream parlor on Western Avenue that will have your taste buds doing backflips. In 2002, Paleteria y Neveria La Rosita opened its doors and people have fallen in love with their delicious, homemade ice cream and other unique dessert items that you must try when you stop in.

La Rosita serves up 32 flavors of ice cream and 22 flavors of paletas, or Mexican ice pops. Some of the top-selling ice cream flavors include Mexican chocolate, coupling the spice of cinnamon with the sweetness of chocolate, and Gansito which tastes like strawberry shortcake melted with chocolate chip ice cream. Surprisingly, La Rosita’s most popular item on the menu is not ice cream at all. It is corn, topped with mayo, cheese, butter and chili powder, and served in a cup or on a stick. According to owner Juan Cervera, one in every two customers who walks through the door will order this Mexican snack. The mayo, cheese and butter compliment the corn’s sweetness while the chili powder adds just enough spiciness to give your taste buds a whirl.

From ice cream and paletas to fruit drinks and corn in a cup, La Rosita provides a menu that will cater to everyone. This ice cream parlor is always full of hungry guests, but don’t worry — there are plenty of sweet treats for everyone.

Let us know what you think! Tag @YPNSouthBend or use #YPNtalk and share your thoughts on La Rosita!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Hidden Gem: Bowl of Pho

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Monday, September 11, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (2)

Tired of the same ol’ same ol’? Can’t stomach the thought of another burger and fries for dinner? If you’re feeling adventurous – or just looking for something a little different than Italian, Mexican or American cuisine – why not try Vietnamese! Bowl of Pho (pronounced “Fuh”) is located right off Grape Road in Mishawaka near Fresh Thyme, Home Goods and DSW.

They offer a wide range of Vietnamese fare, though they’re known for their various Pho dishes which is a form of noodle soup with various vegetables and protein. A perfect dish to enjoy when you’re in need of a quick warm up or relief from a cold – Bowl of Pho offers large portions at great prices and is great for a quick lunch away from the office or dinner with the family. For more on Bowl of Pho check out their menu.

Let us know what you think! Tag @YPNSouthBend or use #YPNtalk and share your thoughts on Bowl of Pho!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Game Plan of the Office

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

The old saying goes, “Age ain’t nothing but a number,” but in the professional world, your age can define how people perceive you as an employee. Your work ethic, behaviors in the workplace, and overall perception as an employee can be dictated by just finding out when you were born. Since it’s football season, though, let’s take a different look at how the different generations interact with each other in an office setting.

Within the office Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1976) and Millennials (1977-1995) have been working together for years now. But right when everyone seems to be settling into their roles in the office the first members of Generation Z (1996-present) are getting ready to join the fun as interns and as full-time employees when the Class of 2018 graduates in May.

No need to worry, the office isn’t going to implode, but to make this office setting of four different generations work it must play to their strengths similar to how a football team must play to the strengths of each one of its players in order to win a game.

The Baby Boomers have experienced so much.

For years, this generation has been extremely hardworking and motivated by perks and their positions. They are career-focused and goal-oriented. They have so much knowledge to teach the younger generations. On the football field, the baby boomers would be the head coach. As talented as the players are, if it weren’t for a head coach’s scheme and play calls, the team would be lost. Employees should look up to the Baby Boomers to give them motivation, leadership and positive feedback on projects and tasks. They’ve seen a lot and have a lot of great experience.

Generation X-ers are like the quarterback on the field.

Those who are part of Generation X are said to be the most effective managers compared to any other generation. Gen X-ers can adapt to any situation, excel when it comes to problem solving and can collaborate with the best of them. None of these things would be possible without knowing how each member of their team works and utilizing that knowledge to effectively manage, just like a quarterback does with his offence. Without the quarterback you can’t run an offense effectively and he or she must make split-second decisions that can ultimately win or lose the game for the team.

If Gen X is the quarterback, who are the Millennials?

The Millennials are like the first-round draft pick running back.They’re talented, quick and can be a literal “game-changer,” but there is a tremendous amount of pressure on them to perform at a high-level and live up to (or break away from) the hype. Millennials are some of the most tech-savvy employees in the office. Their ability to use social media to market an organization is unparalleled and they want their work to have a purpose just like a rookie running back wants to contribute to a team instead of just warming the bench all season. They want to show their talents and when they aren’t given the opportunity to do so may not practice as hard as they possibly can. IF this happens in the workforce, those smartphones might get turned on and take precedence over doing actual work. If Millennials feel their work matters, though, and they are set upon the right path by coaches and QBs that want to help them learn (mentors) their talent will show and they do indeed live up to the hype.

So, the hungry, talented running back called Millennials are juking out defenders, running upfield and scoring touchdowns. Meanwhile, the head coach Boomers are calling plays and the Gen X quarterback is reading the defense and making the right passes at the right time. That sounds like an effective team already, but there are some promising new players – 2.52 billion of them, actually – who are nearing the end of their college years and ready to go pro.

We have been scouting Generation Z for a while to see what kind of teammate they will be. Looking at that scouting report, you’ll notice they have a digital preoccupation that outstrips Millennials. They’ve grown up with a smartphone in one hand and a Fidget Spinner in the other. Despite this preoccupation, they are a generation that cares about face-to-face interaction and creating communities. They’re like a rookie linebacker – very talented, but rough around the edges. The need constructive feedback on their work, room to develop their skills and support, not derision (which the first-round draft pick Millennials have seen a lot of). If they receive that Generation Z can be that final piece to the puzzle that makes up a championship caliber team.

On a football team, no position is more important than another. Everyone has to do their job effectively for the common good of the team. The same is true in an office – no generation is more important than another and when they work together it helps businesses succeed. Each generation has strengths but each has its fair share of weaknesses, but through effective communication you can see how everyone’s skills complement each other just like a winning football team.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

JEFF'S TAKE: $13.6M Impact From Out-of-County Guests

South Bend Region
Posted by: Jeff Rea
President & CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 9:00:00 am
 Comments (0)

We’re just a couple of weeks away from the 2017 home football opener as the Irish get set to take on Temple on September 2. There is a lot of excitement surrounding this season as the University gets set to unveil the completed Campus Crossroads, a multi-year construction project in which more than $400 million has been invested in Stadium enhancements and the construction of O’Neill Hall, the Corbett Family Hall, and the Duncan Student Center. Contractors have been working diligently for years to meet a construction deadline this month.

Students, faculty and staff, alumni, and fans will have seven opportunities this season to experience one of the best gameday happenings in all of college football right here in South Bend.

A disappointing 2016 season has fans ready to put the past behind and focus on the new season. Those fans will flock to our community from all over the world, many participating in an annual tradition, others crossing off one of those “bucket list” items. Others will seek to reconnect with their alma mater or longtime University friends. Regardless of why they come, our community stands ready to receive and welcome our guests and to provide them with an experience they can’t find anywhere else on a Saturday afternoon.

Many of our business partners have been gearing up for this for some time. Football season provides an important economic boost. The economic impact of a home football weekend is $15.1 million with $13.6 million being from visitors outside of St. Joseph County. In a typical season, we have six home games; this season seven.

Our hotel partners are most excited. We have some 52 properties with 4,331 rooms, and they all hope to be full throughout the season. We are anticipating two more hotel properties opening during football season, adding another 272 rooms to the mix. Our restaurant partners are equally excited and are anticipating some busy weekends ahead!

If you’ll be entertaining guests during the season, contact our team at Visit South Bend Mishawaka for recommendations on gameday and throughout the weekend. Go to for all the latest. I look forward to seeing you out on campus this fall!

Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

We All Play a Role in South Bend Region's Success

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President & CEO on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 2:00:00 pm
 Comments (0)

I had the opportunity to be in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this month with more than 1,000 Chamber of Commerce professionals from all over the world. Those leaders had gathered to share best practices and unique programs, as well as lessons on how they were tackling challenges in their communities back home.

It was an interesting collection of people. Every size city, town or region was represented from a broad geographic footprint. No two communities are exactly alike, but if you look hard enough, you’ll notice more similarities than differences.

I came away with added perspective on what is happening around the country.

My peers told tales of downtown redevelopment and revitalization. They spoke of the important roles colleges and universities play in their development efforts. They shared about efforts to retain young people and stop the out-migration of talent. I heard about workforce shortages and how communities are developing workforces to meet employer needs.

Quality of place improvement was a common theme, as was regional collaboration. I also heard about major infrastructure improvements, about how businesses were working with government and how technology was changing businesses and communities.

Sound familiar? I hope so. Similar efforts are happening across our region, and in some cases we are outpacing our peers. On others, we’re behind. While we love to come together and share best practices, we also recognize the competition is fierce. After all, we’re fighting for the same talent, jobs and capital investment.

We must keep pace.

Where our region lags behind is population growth. Nashville is adding more than 100 people per day. Charleston, S.C., is adding about 50 per day. By comparison, we’re adding about one person per day over the first half of this decade.

Population growth is a key factor in a company’s decision to grow in a community or relocate to an area. Low unemployment has left employers with the chief concern about whether they can attract the people they need to fill available jobs. We’ve seen first-hand that companies that like what our area offers opt to go somewhere else because the workforce is a concern.

New housing opportunities in our downtowns will help. As will new bike trail connections between communities and a faster connection to Chicago via the South Shore commuter train line. Other quality of place improvements are also a plus. If we do it right, the next three years could be transformative. Sputter, and we’ll fall further behind.

Key components of the Regional Cities Initiative were to grow population and build a national brand. The $700 million plus in planned improvements will help us do both. Construction on some of those projects has commenced; others will begin within the next year.

Physical improvements alone won’t drive growth. A coordinated regional effort is essential, as well as ambassadors from every part of the region touting the strengths they see and the opportunities that exist.

Which role will you play: a champion willing to roll up your sleeves and help make a difference, or a critic lobbing in complaints from the sidelines? What I found from my peers was a genuine excitement among its leaders and citizens for the progress in their communities. Our competition is fierce, we must keep pace, and we need you to play an important role in that effort.

Also published in the South Bend Tribune & South Bend Region enews

A Place for Talent

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)


Cities across the country are competing with one another to attract talent. With availability of talent/workforce the number one consideration site selectors and businesses look at when relocating to a new community, retaining and attracting talent are critical to our region’s success.

While it would be nice to simply flip a switch to make talent stay here, it takes focus and effort not only by the Chamber but also from businesses and our cities to create an environment attractive to young talent.


The Chamber began to lay the groundwork to create a more favorable environment for young professionals (YPs) to become better connected when it started the Young Professionals Network (YPN) South Bend 12 years ago. Millennials are a key target group in talent development, and YPN provides the perfect vehicle for YPs to develop, connect and become empowered.

While YPN can’t singularly retain and attract talent, it’s one of the tools in the toolbox that creates a culture appealing to young people. Using events as its main platform, YPN offers its attendees abundant networking opportunities to meet their peers and gives them additional personal and professional connections.

In 2016, YPN presented 26 events with a total of 1,969 attendees and has 1,700 contacts on its email list. Events provide education and information, but the greatest benefit to YPs is building relationships with peers. Events are purposely held at different venues throughout the region to immerse YPs in their community so they get to know it better. YPs learn about new restaurants and attractions, hear from elected leaders and corporate CEOs.

Jennifer Speary, external sales specialist for Venue ND taps into YPN, using it as a resource to make personal and professional connections and referrals. “I like to stay engaged in what is happening in the cities of South Bend and Mishawaka, keeping up with news, events, projects, new businesses and other activities. The more I know about South Bend and Mishawaka, the better resource I can be to my clients here at the University of Notre Dame when scheduling activities for them outside campus,” said Speary.

INTERN South Bend Region

In the fall of 2013, the Chamber launched INTERN South Bend Region (SBR), a program to increase the quantity and quality of experiential learning in the South Bend Region. Connecting businesses to the next generation of talent is the key objective. The program provides students with real-world experiences, introduces employers to enthusiastic young people and engages interns with our community and each other.

The Chamber continues to partner with enFocus, the state and regional colleges and employers to increase the pool of post-secondary internship opportunities. Employers are encouraged to post their internships on the state portal,

An added component to INTERN SBR is the Summer Community Engagement Program, which provides opportunities for interns to network, learn and explore the good things going on in the South Bend Region. Summer interns participate in weekly challenges that expose them to the community while also making great connections with fellow interns.

In 2016, 154 interns representing 36 employers participated in the summer series. In a survey of last year’s summer interns, 100% of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the program positively influenced their perception of the area, and 79% indicated that they would accept a position from their summer employer.


Quality of Place

Our cities and businesses play an integral role, particularly with quality of place considerations, in creating an environment attractive for young talent.

“South Bend is increasingly a vibrant and inclusive community for its young professionals. The Smart Streets initiative, a recently completed project that attracted over $90 million in private investment, has redesigned the downtown streetscape to be more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“Several new downtown apartment projects have already opened, and every month more shops, restaurants and food trucks are popping up to serve those who live and work downtown. Our place-making processes involve continuous community engagement, so residents can directly affect their neighborhoods,” he said.

With a workforce where 65% are under the age of 40, tech company KINETIC IT Solutions has had to work on creating a culture of ownership in the company to retain talent. According to Jim Peterson, owner of KINETIC, giving employees ownership in their area of expertise creates pride in their work and continues to build a strong corporate culture.

“The other side of working hard and taking ownership is having fun at and after work. It’s our opinion that enjoying your work and team is critical to having a great company,” said Peterson.

“The South Bend Region has made changes in the last 10 years that have grown the options to have fun with your team and with your friends. With great restaurants, engagement with YPN, and focus on retaining our local talent, we believe that our YPs see our area as a place to stay for their careers. For several decades, many YPs would look to larger markets to start their careers both for employment and social opportunities. The growth in our community has given professionals across all generations the ability to grow their careers while also having fun things to do after work. As our community continues to build opportunities for our YPs, we will see their numbers increase in our local businesses.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fall Into Service

Posted by: YPN South Bend on Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 9:00:00 am Comments (0)


As summer begins to wind down, you may be thinking, “How can I spend my time now?” Well, you’re in luck because the South Bend Region has many nonprofit organizations that could benefit from your time and talent. Giving back has surprising benefits for you too. Volunteering diversifies your experiences, provides networking opportunities and allows you to have fun all while supporting your favorite cause. Not sure of where to start? We’ve found a number of ways you can give back this fall.

1. You can help raise awareness about lending a hand to our homeless neighbors on Tuesday, September 12 from 6:00 – 10:00 a.m. at HOPE Ministries. HOPE Ministries is in need of YPs to assist with set-up and tear-down at their annual partner Pancake Breakfast. If you are unable to volunteer at the Pancake Breakfast, there are always opportunities to volunteer during their regular hours or other special events. For more info or to sign up, contact Jill Gunn or call 574.235.4150.

2. In conjunction with Hunger Action Month, the Food Bank of Northern Indiana is hosting its inaugural Too Good 2 Waste: An Ugly Food Event to Feed Hungry Kids on Thursday, September 28 at the Gillespie Conference & Special Events Center. Assistance will be needed for registration and set-up. In addition, you can volunteer at the Food Bank during the day Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and in the evenings on Wednesdays and Thursdays. To volunteer and learn more about Hunger Action Month, contact Marijo Martinec or call 574.232.9986 ext. 124.

3. You can raise awareness for cancer survivors and victims at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5K Walk on Saturday, October 14 at Beutter Park Riverwalk. The American Cancer Society is in need of volunteers to distribute water, sell t-shirts, register participants and provide a fun experience for all walkers. Register to walk or volunteer by contacting Nicole Van Duyn.

4. Give the gift of life by donating blood at the South Bend Medical Foundation. The Medical Foundation is always seeking opportunities for businesses to hold an onsite blood drive. Their staff makes hosting a blood drive simple – all you do is select the day and provide the donors, and the Medical Foundation takes care of the rest. No time to organize a blood drive? You can still go to any of The Medical Foundation locations to donate as an individual. Can’t donate blood at all? There are opportunities to assist in the office as needed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Five Ways to Relieve Stress for YPs

Posted by: YPN on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 at 9:00:00 am Comments (0)


Stress. It happens to everyone, especially young professionals. Whether you have several projects to complete by the end of the day or have a big presentation to give, stress is a regular occurrence in the professional world. It can make you feel like shutting down and going to bed. The good news is this doesn’t have to be the case! We’ve compiled a list to combat stress in the South Bend region.

1. Sometimes when your mind is going in several different directions, the best thing to do is to take a step back and breathe. What better place to do that than at the Grotto on the University of Notre Dame’s campus. This tranquil spot is nestled behind the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, just beyond the shadow of the Golden Dome. As you walk up to the Grotto, a sense of calmness takes over and the heat from the hundreds of lit candles warms your skin on chilly days and nights. Take time to light a candle of your own and say a prayer, or just rest your mind. The Grotto allows you the opportunity to escape whatever is troubling you.

2. Go for a walk along the St. Joe River. The South Bend River Walk is a great place to stroll and let your mind wander. With the backdrop of downtown South Bend in the distance, you can enjoy scenic views every corner you turn. If you decide to go after the sun sets (which isn’t hard this time of year!), you will be able to see the South Bend River Lights near Seitz Park and the Century Center. The River Lights is an interactive light display turning the river into a living art piece making it a great place for reflection.

3. Looking for something fun to do with friends that will take your mind off of the stresses of work? Look no further than Strikes and Spares Entertainment Center in Mishawaka. Whether you want to go bowling with your friends, play a round of mini golf or even try your hand at the go-karts, there is something for everyone. Need to wet your whistle? Keglers Sports Bar has you covered. 

4. One of the more traditional routes to relieving stress is taking a trip to a day spa. South Bend has two day spas in the area, Hair Crafters Day Spa Salon and Therapeutic Indulgence. With head-to-toe treatment options such as massage therapy, facials, and yoga, your stress levels will deplete to nothing.

5. End your day of relaxation with a meal at the East Bank Emporium Restaurant in downtown South Bend. Taste some traditional American cuisine while taking in the great views that the Emporium has to offer. As one of two South Bend restaurants with a patio along the river, you can take in the views of downtown South Bend and the St. Joe River. The meal options offer a taste of the Midwest. Add a cold beverage and good friends to it and you’re all set for a good, stress free time. Make a reservation today!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

South Shore Project Must Get Funded

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (0)

Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, and more than 10 million people live in the Chicagoland metropolitan area. Another 76 million people visit the area each year.

Chicago is an international hub for commerce, as well as a leader in industries like finance, manufacturing, technology and telecommunications. It boasts the second busiest airport in the world and has one of the largest, most diversified economies in the world.

For more than 100 years, our region has been closely connected to the metro area via key transportation connections like road (Interstate 80-90), air (four flights daily) and train (via the South Shore and Amtrak railroads). Our residents are frequent visitors and our businesses find it a critical market.

The ease of connecting has become an important driver to our local economy, especially as our region seeks to attract top talent. A study of communities north and west of Chicago show that those within a 90-minute train ride have seen record growth and new capital investment. The current ride to South Bend, though a convenient connection, exceeds two hours in duration.

Shorten the duration, and the region could reap benefits like those realized in the west suburbs. The goal is 90 minutes by 2020, and the pieces are falling in place to make that a reality.

The project has found broad and bipartisan support at the federal, state and local levels of government. When Gov. Eric Holcomb visited South Bend in March, he cited the need for the improvement to the electric commuter train. The Indiana General Assembly concurred and have included rail improvements in the biennial budget.

Partners in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties have followed suit, and soon the federal government will weigh in on their support. Officials in South Bend and St. Joseph County are working to put local support in place. Business and community leaders have also voiced their support. This is the top priority of the business community in the region.

Two projects are critical to meeting the 90-minute goal: construct a new 16-mile track between Gary and Michigan City to make sure two tracks run the full route between South Bend and Chicago; and relocate the station at the South Bend International Airport from the east side to the west side.

Simply put, shorter commute times means more people interested in living and working in the South Bend area.

Funding the project is complicated. Obviously, it will require an investment in the future. Over the past 100 years, the service has cost local communities very little. A finance plan utilizing local, state and federal dollars has been put in place.

The project to add track, improve a number of stations, and make the trains faster will cost an estimated $290 million. The Federal Transit Administration would fund $145 million through the Federal Capital Investment Grant program. The state budget will contribute $72.5 million; Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties will each contribute $18.125 million. St. Joseph County commissioners approved its portion Tuesday morning.

An additional $25 million is being sought by South Bend for the airport relocation portion.

In the battle to differentiate our area from our competitors, a project like this can be a game changer. Professionals are attracted to the opportunity to live here, work there and vice versa. Those who don’t want the commute are instead attracted to the arts, cultural and recreational opportunities available with this connection.

Some questions remain, especially related to the uncertainty of the route into the airport. A number of alternatives are being developed now. In the end, we hope the project moves forward as planned and becomes the economic catalyst we believe it can be.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Indiana's Report Card

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Thursday, June 8, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (0)

Students are anxiously awaiting their final report cards, which are used to determine the quality of their schoolwork.

But the end of our school days doesn’t necessarily mean the end of report cards. In our jobs, an annual evaluation is kind of like a report card, and our companies often track their progress versus their competition.

Report cards are even a necessary tool to track the progress of the state of Indiana and its future growth opportunities.

On Tuesday, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce issued its Indiana Vision 2025 report card at a North Central Indiana Regional Forum in South Bend. The report tracks where the state is making progress on the economic development front and what areas require further attention. Similar presentations will be given around the state in five other regions over the next month.

Indiana Vision 2025 is a comprehensive economic development plan that was launched in 2012. It was developed after extensive input from business and community leaders from every part of the state. The effort aims to provide leadership, direction and a long-range economic development strategy for the state of Indiana. Since its launch, it has helped guide public policy decisions and legislative agendas.

Every two years the Indiana Chamber examines key metrics covering progress in four critical areas: Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure and a Dynamic and Creative Culture. The 2017 Report Card highlights metrics in each of these four areas using the most up-to-date data possible. The report ranks Indiana nationally (1 to 50) in 62 key economic measurements.

So how are we doing? Indiana improved its ranking (from the 2015 Report Card) compared with other states in 36 metrics (up from 28 two years ago); it declined in 16 rankings (three less than in 2015); and remained the same or there was no updated data available in eight metrics (12 in 2015).

Generally, the state has done really well on things like our regulatory environment, science and tech degrees as a percentage of all degrees, reading and math scores, state and local government spending, university business spinoffs, and small business policy index.

The state hasn’t fared as well in areas like the generation of clean energy, the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Index, urban industrial property tax rates, net job creation for new companies, populations with associate degree or other credential, and the percent of population with science and engineering bachelor degrees. You can view the full report at

The north central Indiana region is lagging behind the state in areas like education attainment (those with an associate or bachelor degree or higher), the number of people with STEM bachelor degrees, the number of people above poverty level, per capita income and net domestic migration.

Growing the economy, adding jobs and new capital investment and attracting, developing and growing new businesses is hard work. And it’s something every other community, region and state is doing. It requires a lot of partners, broad community buy-in, and a sustained effort.

The Indiana Vision 2025 plan has made great progress in its first five years, but much work remains ahead. Our region will play a critical role in the success of the plan; it’s up to all of us to roll up our sleeves and get to work on improving the performance of the region.

Source: South Bend Tribune

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Michiana Forty under 40 Demonstrates Pool of Talent

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
 Comments (0)
Jeff Rea

Last week, the Michiana Forty Under 40 Class was revealed. The 2017 class represents the 11th Michiana Forty under 40 class. This program is an annual collaborative effort between the South Bend Regional Chamber, the Young Professionals Network South Bend, the Elkhart County Community Foundation and other chambers of commerce across the region.

The program recognizes 40 regional business and professional leaders who have achieved success before the age of 40. It was developed originally to shine the spotlight on 40 of the area’s most talented and dedicated young executives, professionals and leaders who demonstrate career success and community engagement.

This year’s class includes a broad collection of individuals from a variety of industries: higher education; health care; food service; manufacturing; computer science; banking; government; financial services; legal, business services; retail; utilities; early childhood and K-12 education; engineering; insurance; construction; accounting and real estate.

Organizers of the first class wondered if the program could sustain over time. Would there be enough young professionals to recognize each year? Eleven years and 400 honorees later, there is no shortage of talent. The recognition has become highly sought after. This year, 200 nominations were received for the 40 slots.

Recipients were selected based on the following criteria: initiative and dedication in pursuing their career; proven success and achievement in their job/career; investment in and service to others through their involvement in civic, charitable and/or religious organizations; and passion for their community that motivates them to give back because of that passion.

In addition, nominees had to be under the age of 40 on May 16, and live and work in Michiana (LaPorte, St. Joseph, Elkhart, Starke and Marshall counties in Indiana; and Cass and Berrien counties in Michigan). Anyone in the region could complete a nomination, which are received in the spring of each year.

A committee from across the region annually reviews and scores the applications received, performing what has become a very difficult task of narrowing the list of 200 down to 40.

So why does this all matter? It should give us all confidence that our area has a “deep bench.” That we have leaders in virtually every industry and in each community in the region stepping forward to make a difference. That we have young people who have chosen to stay right here to launch their careers and plant roots instead of fleeing for larger metro areas or warmer climates.

The next few years are critical to our region. As we seek to attract young people, new families and businesses to our region, it will take a team effort from across the region. You’ll see members of this class play a vital role, especially as they join with their peers who were selected before them and work collectively to promote and grow the region.

Congratulations to this year’s class! We’ll celebrate their contributions at a recognition luncheon on Tuesday, May 16, at the Gillespie Conference Center. If you would like to join us for the celebration, visit The list of this year’s honorees is below.

The 2017 class of Forty under 40 honorees will be honored May 16 at the Gillespie Center. They are:

Jenna Bauer, Saint Mary’s College

Hayley Boling, Boling Vision Center

Dawn Brockey, Culver Coffee Co.

Joshua Cameron, Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory

Emanuel-Cristian Caraman, Bethel College

David Cieslak, Aunalytics

Kristen Collett-Schmitt, University of Notre Dame

Ansley Covey, 1st Source Bank

Ryann DeMoss, Beacon Health Foundation

Katelan Doyle, Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office

Kyle Everett, Robert W. Baird & Co.

Dawn Farmer, Saint Mary’s College

Anne Fischesser, Faegre Baker Daniels

Dustin Geyer, Ranch Fiberglass

Latorya Greene, Saint Joseph Health System

Alexandria Hall, Ivy Tech Community College

Andrew Helfrich, Barnes & Thornburg

Angela Johnson, Faegre Baker Daniels

Erik Johnson, J2 Marketing

Brian Krider, Ben’s Soft Pretzels

Brian Main, Town of Bremen

Ashley Molyneaux, Elkhart Education Foundation

Ali Oesch, Ali Oesch Jewelry

Oluwaferanmi Okanlami, Memorial Hospital of South Bend

Andrew Polaniecki, Holy Cross College

Mark Robinson, Indiana Michigan Power

Dusten Roe, Beacon Health System

Dan Rousseve, TCU

Emily Rupchock, Early Childhood Alliance

Jennifer Sears, Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp.

Emily Smith, Naissance Inc.

Clinton Squadroni, Worldwide Express

Shawn Stevens, Edward Jones

Bryan Tanner, Lawson-Fisher Associates

Katie Tryniecki, Gibson

Matthew VanSoest, Ancon Construction Co.

Tammy Weisweaver, B Present Studio

Andrew Wiand, enFocus

Daniel Wolfson, RSM US LLP

Rudy Yakym III, Bradley Co.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Give Local St. Joseph County

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
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The Chamber has been a big advocate of the Regional Cities program since its inception. From the beginning business leaders recognized the importance of working together across the region and the value that quality of place improvements could provide to regional efforts to grow the economy. This summer we’ll see construction on many of those projects begin as almost $700 million in improvements are planned.

The business community is excited about another collaborative effort set to happen next month in St. Joseph County; that is Give Local St. Joseph County on Tuesday, May 9. On that day over a 24-hour period, 67 charities will benefit from the generous donations of the community together with $2.4 million in matching funds! A similar effort in 2015 attracted 5,487 donors who contributed more than $6.7 million.

The dollars raised will enhance other quality of place improvements like those happening with the Regional Cities program. Among those organizations participating this year will be organizations that offer local events and programming related to things like Arts & Culture, Camps, Parks & Recreation, Community Development, Education, Health & Human Services, and Youth Development.

The Community Foundation of St. Joseph County is leading this effort. Their mission is to build permanent resources for our community, Give Local St. Joseph County is designed to support local charities now and from now on. How? By passing through 75% of net dollars raised for each charity to support current programming, and by placing the other 25%—plus generous matching funds—into each charity's permanent endowment, increasing the annual support it receives year after year.

The help of you and your business is critical to this effort. I encourage you to get involved and to take advantage of this unique opportunity to benefit key nonprofit organizations working to improve the quality of life in our community. The 2015 effort was one of the tops in the country. Though there is no similar competition this time around, there is an opportunity to once again show others the generosity of this community.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Continued Prosperity Means Continued Collaboration

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
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More than 720,000 people call one of the five primary counties in our region home.

Together those counties include close to 2,500 square miles of territory, parts of two states, and about 47 cities and towns. Add in those neighboring counties that are part of our media market and you have one of the larger economic engines in the Midwest. The land mass alone rivals large economic engines like Indianapolis and the doughnut counties.

The region has a long history of making things, of innovative manufacturing, of productive agribusiness, of a skilled workforce, of a strong transportation infrastructure, and of many other features that helped attract both you and me here. The region boasts easy access to Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit and all of the major markets in a seven-state region with more than 56 million residents.

The area includes big cities, midsized communities and small towns, sandy beaches, rural farmlands, quality recreational opportunities, a variety of job and housing options, a low cost of living, easy connections to anywhere in the world, top-notch higher education, high-quality arts and entertainment opportunities, and just about anything else someone might want in a region.

If you are young and just getting started, I would like to think this is the place for you. On the other end of your career, this region works too. Thinking about settling down, starting and raising a family, then there’s something here for you, too.

But does it look that way to the outside world? Do they see us as some sort of super region? A well-oiled machine working together toward a common goal? Or a bunch of disparate parts all moving in their own direction? Is our area on the radar when people are thinking about where to locate their business or where to plant roots and raise a family? Do you feel like you are a part of something bigger if you live in Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, Elkhart, or Marshall counties? How about if you are in Kosciusko, LaPorte, or Fulton County?

Business leaders love the regional concept. Though they are quick to support the important community events in their own hometowns, they recognize that their employees and their customers come from a much broader geographic footprint not confined by political boundaries and as such they need to think broader than their own locale.

Elected leaders are sometimes slower to embrace the regional concept. After all, they were elected to represent particular interests within a defined geographic area. They often fear they’ll lose their identity as a community or that what’s to follow the regional discussion is a unigov concept.

Friendly rivalries born on the high school football field or on the basketball court often move beyond the athletic fields and into communities. People are really proud of where they come from, and aren’t afraid to boast about that. But for some it’s easy to lose sight of the concept that a win is when a new resident or a new business chooses our region over the other 8,000 communities competing for the same thing. And conversely, a loss impacts the whole region as well.

It’s going to be up to all of us to pull together for the region to truly succeed. Together, we can go toe-to-toe with about any region in the country; individually, we’ll languish. The business community stands ready to help lead this effort and will continue to champion the efforts to work collectively as a region.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Indiana Needs to Continue Advancing to Remain Competitive

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
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A budget surplus. A balanced budget. A AAA bond rating. One of the top five states in the country for doing business. More people working than at any time in its history. Record new investment. Low unemployment. A national leader for economic growth. Indiana has a lot to be proud of and has become the envy of its peers in the Midwest and across the country.

The state’s chief executive, Gov. Eric Holcomb was in Washington, D.C., last month to share some of Indiana’s successes with governors from across the country. Last week, he came to South Bend to meet with business leaders from across the region.

But what the governor shared was less about Indiana’s past accomplishments and more about what the state needs to do to continue moving forward to maintain its competitive edge. It’s a message Holcomb has championed back to his election in November and during his State of the State address in January.

In that address, Holcomb reminded Hoosiers of the words of Apollo Mission Director Gene Krantz, “Complacency is not an option. Leadership is all about continually moving forward, relentlessly looking for ways to improve. We know the world will not stand still, and those who don’t keep up will be left behind.”

Holcomb wants to make sure Indiana is not left behind and in January revealed his "Five Pillars of Indiana's 2017 Next Level Legislative Agenda." They included:cultivate a strong and diverse economy by growing Indiana as a magnet for jobs; create a 20-year plan to fund roads and bridges; develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce; attack the drug epidemic; and deliver great government service.

In South Bend, the governor dove deeper into each of the five areas and talked about the steps necessary to achieve those goals. He encouraged the group to play a role and do their part. The General Assembly is currently debating many of those priorities.

Holcomb’s message resonated with like-minded business leaders. Business people understand the need for continuous improvement and the need to stay ahead of the competition. Business leaders understand living within their means and at the same time the need to innovate and enhance their offerings to their customers.

On the campaign trail last year and during his short time in office, Holcomb has traveled the state and visited those innovative companies and those progressive communities that are well positioned for future growth. The South Bend-Elkhart region has caught his attention. The governor championed the regional efforts of this region as well as those in other parts of the state that will help Indiana win the battle for attracting talent.

But competition is fierce with every state and locality seeking to attract and retain young people. With 700,000 baby boomers planning to retire and 300,000 new jobs that will be created, the job can be a big one. The governor knows to fill this need Indiana can’t rest on its laurels and instead must move forward on those items he mentioned in his five pillars.

In the State of the State, the governor reminded us of what another great Hoosier, Abraham Lincoln, once said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” In South Bend, the governor challenged and encouraged leaders to help create it and to not be afraid to think big, be bold, and act with courage.

Also Published in the South Bend Tribune, March 8, 2017

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Annual Try for Sunday Alcohol

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
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The Indiana General Assembly has more than 1,000 bills that have been filed this session. We’re early in the process of consideration; many discussions, debates, hearings and votes will happen between now and the conclusion of the session in late April.

The experts are busy picking which bills they think will live or die this next month. Issues like road funding, the budget, pre-K expansion, our schools and workforce development are dominating the early discussion.

A couple of others may be of interest as the session progresses. Senate Bill 352, designating the red fox the state’s official mammal? How about House Bill 1109, designating the Say’s firefly as the state’s official insect? Or Senate Bill 470, designating the milkweed flower as the state’s official wildflower? What about Senate Bill 81, allowing grocery and drugstores to sell cold beer for carryout and for stores to sell alcohol on Sundays?

Which do you think are more likely to survive? I’m betting on the fox, the firefly or the wildflower and against the Sunday sales bill, which never seems to make much progress despite its annual recurrence.

Two things happen at this time of year, every year. The groundhog emerges from its hole to make a weather prediction and the General Assembly considers whether this is the year to consider Sunday sales. Each year the groundhog goes back into its hole as does the bill on Sunday sales, not to be heard again until the following year. Will this year be different?

Early indications were that we wouldn’t see much action on Sunday sales this year. However, just last week it began gaining some attention. The Senate Rules Committee may take up the matter in Senate Bill 81. Or it may not. No senators from our region sit on that committee.

“Blue laws” were where Sunday limitations originated, primarily for religious reasons. The fight these days is less about religion and more about disagreements between retailers and package liquor stores. Retailers want the ban repealed; package liquor stores think Sunday sales would unfairly benefit retailers. Rarely is the convenience of customers a consideration in the debate.

You currently can buy beer, wine and liquor at bars and restaurants on Sundays but not to carry out of a store. Retailers want the right to sell and claim it’s all about customer convenience. Liquor stores, which are closed on Sundays, have fought the move for fear it will cost them too much to compete and in the end really change how the alcohol/liquor market operates.

I do think some legislators are growing tired of the annual argument and are anxious to bring resolution to the issue once and for all. Leaders in the House and the Senate have hinted it’s time to move this debate forward. The challenge may be with other language getting attached to the original bill. In the past that ultimately has derailed progress for any bill. Each amendment generates new opposition to a proposed bill.

Indiana is currently losing the battle to attract young talent. Laws like this Prohibition-era restriction only tell those considering our state that we are not very progressive. Prohibition ended in 1933. Only a handful of states still limit Sunday sales like Indiana.

Indiana has recognized the need to stem the outmigration of talent and has initiated programs like Regional Cities to improve the quality of place and aid in attracting young people to Indiana. Legislators need to take another step and show young people Indiana can be progressive by moving out of the Prohibition era on this issue.

Also Published in the South Bend Tribune

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Effect of Tax Caps on Local Services

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
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The town of Osceola dominated the headlines this past week as it wrestled with the best way to provide fire protection to its residents. Osceola has struggled to respond to emergency service calls and the Penn Township Fire Department has stepped forward to fill that need. The issue came to a head as Penn Township protested about not getting paid to provide such a service.

The story is just the latest example of the struggles of local governments as they react to shrinking revenues and the fiscal impact that the full implementation of property tax caps will cause when it goes into effect in 2020. The rest of Indiana has already made this adjustment; Lake and St. Joseph counties will be the last to make the change.

The Indiana General Assembly passed the tax caps into law in 2008. The caps were set at 1 percent of the assessed value for residential property, 2 percent for rentals or agricultural land, and 3 percent for commercial property. Those caps were placed in the state Constitution in 2010 when 71 percent of Indiana voters voted in support. At the same time, a 1 percent sales tax increase was passed to help lessen impacts.

Experts predicted the tax caps would save the taxpayers/cost local government around the state about $500 million. Most local governments believe that number was low and in St. Joseph County, taxpayer savings is approaching $70 million annually among all taxing units.

In an effort to keep up with the rising demand for services and the increased costs associated with delivering those services, we’ve seen local governments begin to make major changes in how they do business.

The closing of a public pool, the sale of city-owned golf courses, the changing of bus routes, the consolidation of the 911 center, the limiting of where people can pay their taxes, the hours at the libraries or across-the-board budget cuts are just some of the steps we’ve seen to date. Most of those actions have been unpopular to a vocal public that supported tax caps.

To date the public safety units have largely been spared from the cutting board, but the Osceola situation scratches the surface of an issue we’ll hear a lot more about in the years to come. In St. Joseph County, we have at least 12 different fire departments that cover various parts of the geography. They, like Osceola, may soon find that the tax rate simply won’t support the level of service that residents have come to expect.

Consolidation of any services is a difficult conversation. Each jurisdiction wants to be in control of its own destiny and wants to determine the level of service it believes is appropriate. The key question will be whether taxpayers are willing to pay for that.

So what’s next? The news could be dominated in the years to come by the threats of closings or the elimination of services and reductions in staff. That won’t help efforts in our region to attract new people, new jobs and new investment. In fact it could really hamper those efforts.

Or we could begin working outside of the silos and collectively across political boundaries and across party lines toward potential solutions.

It’s time for a countywide plan that includes each of the cities, towns and townships, for how critical services like fire and police protection, road maintenance, general government operations, recreation services and other quality-of-life improvements will be delivered and paid for. The business community stands ready to offer its experience and expertise to preparing that plan.

Also published in South Bend Tribune

Friday, January 13, 2017

Roads Funding Hot Topic During General Session

Posted by: Jeff Rea
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber on Friday, January 13, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
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The debate is underway at the Indiana General Assembly about 2017 priorities. It’s a budget year, so there is a long line of worthy endeavors hoping to find a spot in the biennial budget. Legislators are left with the task of prioritizing the state spending and ensuring the long-term financial stability of the state.

Perhaps no issue will get more attention than infrastructure funding. Experts estimate our roads and bridges need close to $1 billion more annually for upkeep. That really would allow us only to take care of what we have; additional dollars would be needed for new projects.

The simple truth is there is no way to accomplish this goal without it costing you and me a little more money. A variety of proposals out there seek to collect the needed funding from a variety of different sources. As with any proposal to raise taxes or fees, it likely will face some opposition. At the same time, it is expected many will step forward now in support. I’m one who believes the time is now to fund the state’s 20-year transportation plan.

The tolling of existing interstates will be one option that is studied. I’m a believer in this “user” fee: When I want the speed and convenience of the Toll Road, I utilize it. I think others around the state would follow suit. The Indiana Toll Road helped us pay for 20 years of transportation needs. New toll roads will help address the next 20.

Certainly the easiest section of interstate to toll would be that 24-mile section of I-80 between the west end of the Indiana Toll Road at Portage and the Illinois state line. Some might argue that users through this corridor are already used to tolling through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Critics might argue that those in the north part of the state have already paid a disproportionate share with the Toll Road being in existence since the 1950s and it’s time to look toward other parts of the state.

Tolling an existing interstate roadway won’t be popular or easy to do, but could very quickly raise the kind of funds necessary to fund state transportation needs. It remains to be seen whether elected officials will have the appetite to initiate such difficult change.

Without a tolling plan, additional pressure is placed on other funding options like an increase in the gas tax. Such a change was easier to consider a month ago when gas prices were closer to $2 per gallon than it might be now with gas prices averaging about $2.30 per gallon. The last time the gas tax was adjusted was 14 years ago. A change this time around should include indexing the tax to inflation. A 10-cent increase would add about $4 to the average user's monthly bill.

Additional annual fees on vehicle registrations also will be considered, including a statewide infrastructure improvement with a significant amount for electric vehicles that now don’t pay much of a gas tax but utilize the roadways.

It won’t get easier or cheaper to fix this long-term need. A balanced approach and widespread support will be necessary. Contact your legislators now and share your preferences for how to best solve this need.

Source: South Bend Tribune