Around the Region • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

Around the Region

Stay current with local people, news and events


Milt Lee was named new executive director of Downtown South Bend Inc. Lee will be responsible for working with the organization’s board of directors to further its mission, overseeing the day-to-day operations and long-term strategy, as well as continuing the partnerships with its key supporters, Downtown South Bend said in an Aug. 13 statement. Lee most recently served as the executive director and CEO for the Food Bank of Northern Indiana. He has more than two decades of leadership and management experience in both for-profit and nonprofit business.

Geof Benson, a member of the Beverly Shores Town Council and chairman of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, was named president of the National Association of Regional Councils during NARC’s annual conference and exhibition in June in Orlando, Fla. Brenda Temple, vice president and general manager of Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa in Michigan City, was appointed to the board of directors of the Economic Development Corp. Michigan City. Temple will fill a vacancy through the end of this year left by the departure of Lief Erickson, former general manager at Blue Chip Casino. Temple will begin a three-year term starting in 2019 as the Michigan City appointee.


NorthWest Indiana Bancorp, parent of Peoples Bank SB, is continuing its expansion in Illinois. The company announced July 31 that it acquired AJS Bancorp Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, A.J. Smith Federal Savings Bank of Midlothian, Ill., which operates one branch in Midlothian and two in Orland Park, Ill., in a stock and cash transaction. Its latest purchase follows Peoples Bank’s recent closed acquisition of First Personal Financial Corp. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, First Personal Bank of Orland Park, Ill. That purchase added three branches to Peoples Bank, which brought its total to 19 branches.

Evelyn Price
Evelyn Price

Evelyn Price was named vice president, treasury management sales officer for Centier Financial Partners of Merrillville. Price has more than 17 years of banking experience and working with business clients from all industries and sizes throughout Northwest Indiana and Chicago. She will be responsible for providing comprehensive treasury management solutions to clients throughout the Region.

Joe Koranek
Joe Koranek

Joe Koranek was named mortgage loan officer, assistant vice president of mortgage lending at Centier Bank in Schererville. He will focus on Lake County. Koranek previously served as branch manager at Centier’s Griffith location. Koranek has been with Centier for 17 years.


Purdue University Northwest in Hammond hosted a groundbreaking Aug. 23 for its new $40 million Bioscience Innovation Building, a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) -centered facility, which will house the college’s nursing and biological sciences departments. The building is expected to be completed by 2020. Funding for the project was approved by the Indiana General Assembly in 2017.

David Bathe

Ivy Tech Community College Lafayette Chancellor Dr. David Bathe was appointed vice president of finance for the National Council for Workforce Education. As an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges, NCWE provides a national forum for administrators and faculty in workforce education and basic skills. Bathe joined the NCWE board in June 2017. Bathe will serve on the executive committee and oversee financial operations of the organization.

Indiana’s award-winning Jobs for America’s Graduates program, which helps high school students achieve success through graduation, will be adding four more sites around the state, including two in Northwest Indiana: Merrillville High School in Lake County and North Judson San Pierre in Starke County. JAG Indiana is administered by the Department of Workforce Development and is funded by state and federal dollars. JAG is a workforce preparation program, which allows students to receive class credit by completing the course. The program helps students learn in-demand employability skills and provides a bridge to post-secondary education and career advancement opportunities.

 Gerard Olinger
Gerard Olinger

The University of Notre Dame named the Rev. Gerard J. Olinger vice president for mission engagement and church affairs. Olinger is a former Notre Dame trustee and succeeds the Rev. William M. Lies, who was elected provincial superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers.

The Purdue University Northwest College of Nursing was named one of 16 “Centers of Excellence” by the National League for Nursing for the second straight year. The recognition is awarded to nursing programs that demonstrate sustained excellence in faculty development, nursing education research, and in student learning and professional development. A four-year designation, PNW was previously named a center of excellence in 2014.

 Scott Caldwell
Scott Caldwell

Ivy Tech Community College has awarded its Glenn W. Sample Founder’s Award for Excellence in Instruction to Scott Caldwell, program chair and assistant professor, Richmond campus. The Glenn W. Sample Founder’s Award recognizes an individual who exemplifies the mission of Ivy Tech. It’s been awarded since 1983 and is the college’s highest honor. The recipients of the 2018 President’s Awards include:

  • Anderson – Jane Ellen Hall, assistant professor (business)
  • Bloomington – Stacy Strand, assistant professor (hospitality)
  • Columbus – Richard Lamborn, assistant department chair (behavioral sciences), associate professor (psychology)
  • Evansville – Andrea Jefferson, assistant professor (liberal arts, sciences and education)
  • Fort Wayne – Anthony Ramey, assistant professor (business administration)
  • Indianapolis – Claire Maxson, student success faculty, Foundations of Success Department chair
  • Kokomo – Laura Lanning, department chair (public affairs and social services), program chair and associate professor (human services)
  • Lafayette – Andrew Irrgang, assistant professor (physical sciences)
  • Lake County – Daniel Mallon, assistant professor (human services)
  • Lawrenceburg – Leighann Rechtin, program chair (communication), associate professor (English and general studies)
  • Madison – Annabet Garner, program chair (health care specialist and medical assisting)
  • Marion – Thomas Chester, department chair (arts, sciences and education)
  • Michigan City – Paul Oman, assistant professor and program chair (mathematics)
  • Muncie – Autumn McNichols, associate professor (arts, sciences and education)
  • Richmond – Scott Caldwell, program chair and assistant professor (agriculture)
 James Sullivan
James Sullivan

James Sullivan, University of Notre Dame professor of economics and co-founder of the university’s Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, has been appointed to the U.S. Commission on Social Impact Partnerships. The commission, created by the 2018 Social Impact Partnerships to Pay for Results Act, will advise the Treasury Department on the selection of state and local pay-for-success projects that will be supported by a new $100 million fund. The goal of the act is to encourage public-private partnerships that improve the effectiveness of social programs.

Teresa Lubbers, commissioner of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, was awarded the inaugural Exceptional Leader Award from the State Higher Education Executive Officers. The award is based on her leadership, commitment to higher education, contribution to the greater good, and service to the SHEEO association, a national organization whose members include chief executives of statewide governing, policy and coordinating boards of post-secondary education. Lubbers has served as the Indiana commissioner for higher education for nine years.


Eastlake Athletic Club of Elkhart announced Aug. 8 that it acquired Fitstop, which operates seven fitness centers, including five in Indiana and two in Michigan. The Fitstop sites offer many services, including cardio and strength training, group classes, martial arts training, child care, tanning, 24-hour access and nutritional supplements. Fitstop’s Indiana locations are in Grainger, Elkhart, Middlebury, Osceola and Mishawaka; the Michigan sites are in Dowagiac and White Pigeon. Eastlake Athletic Club is a family-owned network of 10 athletic and fitness clubs in Northern Indiana, with locations in Elkhart, Kosciusko and St. Joseph counties.


 Brenda Temple
Brenda Temple
 Bret Cox
Bret Cox

New leadership recently was appointed at Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa in Michigan City. Brenda Temple was named vice president and general manager, and Bret Cox was named assistant general manager. Both executives are returning to Blue Chip from senior management positions at other Boyd Gaming properties. Temple’s career with Boyd Gaming spans almost 14 years and began at Sam’s Town in Tunica, Miss., where she was director of finance. She served as director of finance for Blue Chip Casino and most recently was assistant general manager at Cannery Casino and Hotel in North Las Vegas. Cox began his 30-year career at Boyd Gaming as a table games dealer and was promoted to director of table games at Blue Chip in 2002. He has held key leadership positions at several other Boyd Gaming properties before returning to Blue Chip.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. announced July 16 that it completed its purchase of Centaur Holdings for $1.7 billion. The transaction adds Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson and Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville to Caesars’ properties across 13 states. Caesars operates the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond as well as the Horseshoe Southern Indiana, which serves the southern Indiana and Louisville areas.

Penn National Gaming Inc. announced June 28 that the Indiana Gaming Commission approved the company’s plan to buy Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. Penn National operates 29 gaming sites around the country, including the Hollywood Casinos in Joliet, Ill., and Aurora, Ill., and Hollywood Casino in Lawrenceburg in southeastern Indiana, outside Cincinnati. Pinnacle, based in Las Vegas, operates 16 gaming sites around the country, including the Ameristar Casino Hotel – East Chicago and the Belterra Casino Resort in southeastern Indiana in Florence near Cincinnati. Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming announced in December its plan to buy Pinnacle Entertainment in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $2.8 billion.


The Northwest Indiana Workforce Board named its officers for 2018-2019. New officers include: chairman, Mary Lewis, corporate controller, Andover Management/In Good Company; vice chairman, Debi Baughman, director of training, Horizon Bank; treasurer, Gary Olund, president and CEO, Northwest Indiana Community Action; secretary, Frank Cardello, chief financial officer, Packaging Logic Inc.; board and staff liaison, Linda Woloshansky, president and CEO, Center of Workforce Innovations. Board members represent the counties of Jasper, Lake, La Porte, Newton, Porter, Pulaski and Starke.

Jordan Seger
Jordan Seger

Jordan Seger was appointed deputy director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Seger has been with the department since 2011 and previously served as division of soil conservation director. Seger grew up in Jasper and was involved with his family’s poultry operation. He graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in public affairs, and previously worked for the National Park Service in Maine and Alaska, as well as the Department of Defense in Washington.

Matthew Wesaw was elected chairman of the tribal council of the Michigan-based Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Other elected board positions include Kelly Curran, secretary; Colin Wesaw, elders representative, and Gary Morseau as member-at-large. Wesaw also will serve as chairman and CEO of the Pokagon Gaming Authority Board, which oversees the Band’s casino properties, including Four Winds Casinos Michigan in New Buffalo, Hartford and Dowagiac, and the Four Winds Indiana casino in South Bend.

 Jerry Raynor
Jerry Raynor

Jerry Raynor was named Indiana’s state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Raynor will oversee 80 local service centers, four area offices, and eight conservation delivery teams across the state and more than 200 employees who work directly with farmers and landowners. Raynor is a native of North Carolina and has spent most of his 26-year career as part of the conservation partnership there. He began his career with NRCS as a student trainee, and he spent most of his early years in field and area office conservationist positions.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration and Indiana State Department of Health on Aug. 6 both named new chief medical officers. Dr. Daniel Rusyniak is the Family and Social Services Administration’s new chief medical officer, and Dr. Melissa Collier will serve in the same capacity for Indiana State Department of Health. Rusyniak graduated from Villanova University and earned his medical degree from Wake Forest University. He completed an emergency medicine residency and medical toxicology fellowship at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Collier has worked for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Collier has made contributions to the U.S. Public Health Service, serving at the Newark Quarantine Station during the U.S. Public Health Service Ebola response, and serving on the Smoking Cessation Subcommittee of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Physician Professional Advisory Committee. Collier is a board-certified pediatrician with a background in internal medicine.

Health Care

Rehabilitation patients at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System in Munster can track their progress toward recovery via a mobile app. RehabTracker is a phone app, available in both Apple and Android formats. It lets patients view updates from their therapy team, track progress on areas of functional improvement and share the results with designated friends and family. The app is being made available through a partnership with Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services. Patients who want the app downloaded to their compatible smartphone must sign a consent form.

Indiana University Health has sold its minority ownership interest in La Porte Hospital and Starke Hospital in Knox. The hospitals will be governed by a single ownership structure, according to a statement from La Porte and Starke hospitals. They are owned by a subsidiary of Community Health Systems Inc. in Franklin, Tenn., which operates 118 hospitals across 20 states, including several in Indiana. IU Health’s decision to sell its share in the La Porte and Starke hospitals was described as amicable.

Community Hospital in Munster recently welcomed new physicians to the Community Care Network Inc. team of physicians. Dr. Omar Husseini, who is board certified in cardiovascular disease, completed his fellowship training at Rosalind Franklin University. He completed his residency at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center and received his medical degree from Saint James School of Medicine. Dr. Osama Zaghmout completed his residency at Hurley Medical Center and received his medical degree from the American University of Antigua—College of Medicine. Dr. Jonathan Ramos is board certified in family medicine and completed his residency at United Hospital Center. He received his medical degree from St. George’s University. Dr. Kathleen Saoud completed her residency at the University of Illinois Hospital at Chicago. She received her medical degree from A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine.


 Ann Amico Moran
Ann Amico Moran
 Swihart Stephen
Stephen Swihart
 Tania Bengtsson
Tania Bengtsson

South Bend-based insurance brokerage Gibson recently announced the following staff appointments: Ann Amico Moran was named director of human resources; Stephen Swihart was promoted to client manager; and Tania Bengtsson was promoted to SME practice leader. Moran previously served as senior recruiting consultant for university relations at the University of Notre Dame.


 Elizabeth Tavitas
Elizabeth Tavitas

Lake County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Tavitas has been selected to serve on the Indiana Court of Appeals. Her selection was announced July 19 by Gov. Eric Holcomb. She will replace Judge Michael Barnes, who retired from the Indiana Court of Appeals in June after 18 years. Tavitas was appointed to the Lake County Superior Court in 2006 by Gov. Mitch Daniels. Her docket consists primarily of domestic relations and protection order cases, but she also is experienced in civil commercial cases and tort law jury trials.


U.S. Steel will make $750 million in capital investments to modernize its Gary Works facility in Gary. U.S. Steel has announced a $2 billion asset revitalization program, which includes Gary Works. The investment will be made over five years to modernize and enhance the company’s flagship operation in Gary and includes installation of new state-of-the-art production equipment, machinery and modernizing technology.

Canada-based New Flyer Inc., a maker of buses and motor coaches, is closing its Elkhart facility in April 2019, eliminating 78 jobs. The company, in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice (WARN) filed with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development on June 25, expects the plant to close on or about April 5, 2019. The company did not provide a reason for the closure in the filing. The plant is at 4600 Wyland Drive in Elkhart. It’s the company’s only Indiana facility.

CTS Corp., an Illinois-based provider of sensing and motion devices, in a WARN notice to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, said it will end manufacturing operations at its facility at 1142 W. Beardsley Ave. in Elkhart. A total of 103 manufacturing jobs will be lost when the plant closes at year’s end. The company said the move is part of a restructuring plan previously announced in June 2016.


 Lisa Jordan
Lisa Jordan

Lisa Jordan, president and CEO of the Family & Youth Services Bureau in Valparaiso, is retiring from the post effective Dec. 31. Jordan has logged 23 years of public service to Porter County. She has overseen more than 20 different programs, which have served more than 4,000 families and youths annually. BeLinda Georgeff, presently the organization’s vice president, has been selected by its board of directors to succeed Jordan. Georgeff and Jordan have worked together closely the past eight years.

 Cindy Cavanaugh
Cindy Cavanaugh

Cindy Cavanaugh has been named by Goodwill LEADS Inc. as vice president for The Excel Centers. Cavanaugh previously served as director of the Hammond Excel Center. The Excel Center is a free, public high school serving students 18 and older with year-round accelerated classes.

The WNBA will donate $10,000 to South Bend’s Venues Parks & Arts Foundation. The donation is being made on behalf of Skylar Diggins-Smith, a South Bend native and 2018 recipient of the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award. Diggins-Smith, Dallas Wings guard and three-time WNBA All-Star selection, chose South Bend’s Venues Parks & Arts Foundation for her organization of choice to receive the donation, which comes with the Dawn Staley award. She earned the Dawn Staley award for her support of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and her positive impact on youth basketball. Diggins-Smith is a Notre Dame graduate. She played a key part in forming the foundation’s Sky Diggs Soldiers, Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center’s travel basketball program.

Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership supported by ArcelorMittal, announced Aug. 13 that $6.6 million in grant funding was awarded to 25 ecological restoration projects in the Great Lakes basin. About $8.2 million in additional project support will be leveraged by grantees, for a total on-the-ground conservation impact of $14.8 million, ArcelorMittal said in a statement. The grants will support projects in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Canadian province of Ontario to sustain, restore and protect fish, wildlife and habitats. The projects will restore coastal wetland habitat, enhance the quality and connectivity of streams and riparian habitat, control invasive species, restore wetland hydrology, improve near-shore health and water quality through green stormwater infrastructure, and reduce sedimentation and nutrient runoff. In Indiana and Illinois, The Nature Conservancy received a $219,340 grant to go along with $773,500 in matching funds. Its project will focus on controlling invasive species and enhance coastal wetland habitat at five sites in the bi-state Calumet Region.


The Schrage family and Centier Bank have committed to a $250,000 founding partner sponsorship to the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting set to open later this year. Henry Schrage founded Centier Bank in Whiting in 1895, then known as Bank of Whiting, nearby what will be the Mascot Hall of Fame’s entrance. Michael Schrage is the fourth generation of the Schrage family to own the bank. The 25,000-square-foot Mascot Hall of Fame at Front and 119th streets near Lakefront Park, is in the final construction phase. It will feature fun and educational exhibits that emphasize technology, engineering, science, art and mathematics.


The potential to bring in $400 million to the Region’s economy over a 20-year period was among the chief reasons the Portage-based Northwest Indiana Forum said it supports a proposed convention center in Lake County. In a statement issued July 13, the forum’s managing board said it applauds Lake County government for commissioning the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to do a convention center feasibility study and encouraged the county to keep the positive momentum going.

“A new convention center in Lake County will have a profound and positive impact on our region,” said Heather Ennis, forum president and CEO. “It has the potential over the next 20 years to inject nearly $400 million into the local economy while creating over 700 full-time and part-time jobs. It will also boost local and state tax revenues by more than $44 million over the same time frame.”

The Northwest Indiana Forum is a regional economic development organization serving Lake, Porter, La Porte, Newton, Jasper, Starke and Pulaski counties.

State and Region officials broke ground Aug. 15 in Hammond on a new Digital Crossroads of America Data Center at the former site of the State Line Generating Facility. Gov. Eric Holcomb, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott and other Region representatives were joined by representatives for Indiana NAP LLC, developers of the data center. Leading the development are Tom Dakich, Indianapolis attorney, and Peter Feldman, a veteran New York data center developer and founder of DataGryd.

According to the state, Indiana NAP LLC will initially invest $40 million to construct a 105,000-square-foot facility on about 12 acres of the 77-acre site. This will be the first phase of the project initially announced in the spring, which will include a data center and shared-space tech incubator. Developers say the project has the potential to grow into a $200 million investment across three buildings and 400,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space.

U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and other Region leaders on Aug. 8 dedicated and formally opened the new $1.5 million U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. The custom’s facility is one of numerous projects to boost usage and improve business activity at the airport in recent years.

The runway expansion, which was completed in June 2015, has allowed larger planes to land at the airport and led to more passengers and an increase in cargo operations using the facility. Airport officials have said increasing the main runway from 7,000 to 8,859 feet has helped increase operations at the airport by 15 percent.


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