Belief in the Value of Home

City of Hammond

Hammond was named after Detroit butcher, George H. Hammond, who set up meat-packing plants in the area back in 1869. This penchant for industry has not diminished either; Hammond is now home to international businesses such as BP, Unilever and Wal-Mart.

Working in her capacity as the city’s Director of Economic Development is Africa Tarver, who believes Hammond has a multitude of positive attributes. “The city of Hammond is a city with a rich history,” she shares. “We have a lot of assets… including our access to the lake and infrastructure that is already in place. Our geographic location places the City within a day’s drive from virtually anywhere in the United States. We have a very qualified workforce, and we have a wonderful quality of life. The city of Hammond is going to great lengths to promote local businesses and to attract new investors into the area.”

Like countless cities in the U.S., Hammond has felt the impact of the economic downturn. Resources have been stretched and the pride that people take in their locality often seems to diminish when recession hits. With the downturn comes both individuals and businesses leaving the city due to an inability to pay rents and falling levels of customers. However, the city of Hammond has been striving to ensure that it remains a clean, safe and welcoming place for people to travel to, socialize in and, most importantly, live.

The programs that the city has been introducing have had a positive effect on both the businesses owners and residents of the city. Africa is quick to point out that green shoots of recovery have been steadily emerging and are taking root continuously. “We have a lot of things going on within the city. I think that most municipalities have noticed – just because of the economy – that there were a lot of communities in somewhat of a lull for a while, but things are picking up. I think that such is the nature of economic development, because once you begin a project, they take quite a while to develop. We have definitely seen some positive developments in place within the city of Hammond.”

One issue that is constantly a blight on communities is housing and, in particular, the number of houses which are being left unoccupied. This is a real problem that almost becomes self-perpetuating as families no longer want to live in desolate environments. To combat this, the local authorities have been ensuring that houses returning to the market are primed and ready to maximize interest.

“While the City of Hammond offers new residential developments, we also provide programs to enhance the existing housing stock. These programs allow homeowners to make upgrades to their homes. We also have programs that are specific to addressing issues within neighborhoods – called the Neighborhood Stabilization Program – providing assistance to state and local governments to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties that might otherwise become sources of abandonment and blight within their communities. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is a proactive effort to address the negative effects that foreclosed properties may cause a community. Through this program, the City will purchase a home that is vacant due to foreclosure, rehab it and put it back on the market. This helps to stabilize a community after some of the problems that we experienced after the collapse of the housing market in 2008.”

The city of Hammond is going to great lengths to promote local businesses and to attract new investors into the area. One aspect of this business development is to ensure that the city looks appealing to investors and is aesthetically welcoming. Various initiatives have been put in place to assist businesses in every aspect. “The City makes a strong effort to establish relationships with new business and existing business – not necessarily businesses that are in trouble either. Our primary goal is to get to businesses before there is a problem. We constantly try to address issues that even some of the thriving businesses may encounter.”

One such program is called the Façade Rebate Program. It is designed to improve the aesthetics of buildings within the city in order to maximize business opportunities. “This program provides a rebate for businesses who seek to enhance the façade of their building. So, if a business wants to put in new windows or lighting or landscaping or they want to paint their building, they are eligible for a rebate – a percentage of the cost of their project. An additional incentive is offered to companies that utilize Hammond Contractors.”

The city planners are all too aware of their responsibility to meet the needs of every business owner in the city. It is all too common an occurrence that policy makers focus solely on larger companies, essentially strangling the local and human aspect of what makes a city home to so many. Africa is adamant that this mistake will not happen in Hammond as the city welcomes larger and smaller businesses and even entrepreneurs. “I think that you need a large gamut of businesses to make your community thrive. So we need the larger industry, but we also need commercial. We cannot underestimate or devalue the importance of the smaller business. Each one of those sectors plays an important part to our economy. I can’t factor one and totally ignore the others.”

While Hammond has a population of over 80,000, it is fair to say that this number will continue to grow as young families have been moving back into the city. Thankfully, Hammond has the educational infrastructure available to cater to this increase. “We do have a substantial amount of young families moving to the city which is always encouraging.” This increase can be credited to the College Bound program. The nationally recognized College Bound program provides Hammond homeowners the opportunity to receive over $10,000 annually for each child attending an accredited Indiana institution on higher education. “We have Purdue University and Kaplan (Hammond campus of Kaplan College) located within the city. Calumet College is located in Whiting; Ivy Tech is located in East Chicago; and Indiana University Northwest is located in Gary which are neighboring communities. We definitely have a lot of educational assets located in this area.”

What is remarkable is that, in an era of cost-cutting and self interest, the city of Hammond is encouraging local authority spending. By investing in the city, it will attract new life and new business. Hammond is bouncing back from the troubles it has faced from 2008 onwards. It is ready and waiting to show the world what it can do.

“I think we are on a good road to improving the quality of life within the city of Hammond as well as continuously establishing a firm base for economic development. If I were to tell someone one thing that I feel would draw them to the city, I would say that I live, work and raise my family in the City of Hammond. I am a lifelong resident of the city and I think that is the greatest testimony you can get from someone.”

Essentially, Hammond is a good news story. It is a story of a group of people that love the city they live in. The take pride in their home and want everyone to share that sense of pride. “The sense of community, the growing and thriving area, those are the things that are important to me.”

October 23, 2017, 7:17 AM EDT

Wind on the Rise

In the world of renewable energy, wind power is growing fast. It is projected that 10 percent of the energy generated in the United States will come from wind farms by 2020. Offshore wind farms are a relatively new addition to the American energy market, but the technology has been well established in Europe and is now taking off state-side as well.