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