By JON GARD – Staff Writer, The News-Dispatch April 27, 2018
The outlook for La Porte County is good and getting better, community leaders said Friday during an annual program sponsored jointly by the Michigan City Area and Greater La Porte chambers of commerce.
“It gets better every day, and it’s exciting to be a part of it,” Board of Commissioners President Rich Mrozinski told about 120 people who attended the State of the County luncheon at Blue Chip Casino.
A two-term County Council member before being elected county commissioner in 2016, Mrozinski joked he had been in office just four months last year when he was invited to deliver the report, “so I had to make up a lot of stuff.”
On Friday, he heralded the work of county employees and various partners in the public and private sectors as he reviewed a list of projects he said showed the county was making progress.
An extension of utilities south of Interstate 94 at U.S. 421 and ongoing efforts by the county to draw private-sector investment to the area will build on momentum started by construction of the Franciscan Health hospital, according to Mrozinski.
“Ten years from now you won’t recognize that area,” he said.
The county’s long-simmering effort to draw industrial development to Kingsbury Industrial Park is closer than ever to bearing fruit, the commissioner said.
“We think we may have finally found the investors we’ve been looking for,” he said. “It’s a very complicated situation there, but I’m not ever going to give up on it. We will develop that park. It will be the biggest thing in La Porte County some day. It will be a big, big deal.”
Work on routine matters showed fiscal responsibility, Mrozinski said, with the county for the first time applying for and winning a state Community Crossings matching grant it will use to repave Johnson Road.
Mrozinski said the county’s “outside the box” investment in a state-sponsored employee training program would help a company on Severs Road retain and create additional jobs with solid wages.
Michigan City Police Chief Mark Swistek and County Council President Randy Novak also made remarks during the luncheon.
Swistek praised the county’s participation in the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program starting in 2016, saying the initiative not only improves cooperation among local law enforcement agencies but leverages federal resources in a combined effort to get hardened criminals off the streets.
He also lauded school-safety efforts across the county, saying first responders and educators have been cooperating on active-shooter training and other programs.
“This county is in great shape as far as school safety is concerned,” Swistek said.
Novak talked about the state of county finances, the $19 million renovation and expansion of the county courthouse in Michigan City, and the impact of tourism on the local economy, saying the council has been careful not to raise taxes as it works to improve the quality of life for residents.
“As of today, the county is in good financial condition,” Novak said.
Michigan City Area Chamber of Commerce President Mary Jo Orlowski introduced the speakers, noting the full house.
“I’m just glad to see so much interest,” Orlowski said. “I think that’s a good sign.” The Michigan City chamber this year is celebrating its 100th anniversary, she said.