The Northwest Indiana Forum describes itself as the regional voice for the business community and the source of a full package of services that promote economic development and the retention of quality jobs. As the Forum’s director of marketing and communications, Karen Lauerman is happy to tout the strengths of her hometown area.
Lauerman said her position with the Forum was an opportunity for her to do what she does best.
“I was born and raised in Northwest Indiana and my job is the most wonderful job anybody could ask for, which is promoting where they grew up,” she said.
Lauerman added that she particularly enjoys working with the people who are part of the Forum, which is a non-profit, membership-driven economic development organization. The Forum’s mission, she says, is to bring about jobs and capital investment to Northwest Indiana.
The Forum’s Web site also says the organization works to create a positive business climate promoting investment and job creation. Enabling this growth includes stable tax policies, reasonable operations and living costs and a workable regulatory environment that protects the quality of life and does not inhibit growth and opportunities.
Lauerman said it can be challenging “to get in front of the right people at the right time” to promote this message.
“Part of my job is to help create and foster those relationships and let everybody know about our region as well as the value and cost savings of doing business in Northwest Indiana versus some of the other Midwest areas,” she said.
The business of economic development has also changed a bit, according to Lauerman. Today, a lot more is done using technology, such as GIS-based site selection tools.
She also said there is more of a regional focus than in the past. When Lauerman started at the Forum, the staff created a regional marketing campaign.
“We’re doing things regionally,” she said. “Our approach now is to market regionally and we can accomplish more by working together because that shows a cohesiveness.”
Lauerman said the Forum recently partnered with the State of Indiana’s economic development group to conduct a massive regional marketing campaign.
“We’re being recognized for that regional marketing campaign by various publications and conferences,” she said.
Some of the other ways the Forum markets itself are by attending trade shows and conferences.
“It takes a personal touch in economic development,” Lauerman said. “It’s those relationships that really foster opportunity.
“I think I have a wonderful opportunity to market a region like Northwest Indiana,” she added. “There is a positive momentum, and I think that folks who know me know that I carry the message because I believe in everything that we do in Northwest Indiana. It’s a lot of fun talking about where you grew up.”