Chamber of Commerce
Uniting the business community, creating an atmosphere to spur business growth and improving the water quality of the lake for boating, fishing and tourism were the initial reasons that a group of local business leaders decided to form the Cedar Lake Chamber of Commerce. While the formation date has been listed as June of 1971, the group had actually been meeting as early as the 1950’s to discuss the need to bring the local business community together. These men and women – thirty have been identified – were willing to give of their time, talent and money to improve business conditions in the newly incorporated Town of Cedar Lake in the late 1960’s. The Chamber received its state charter in September of 1971.
The first Board of Directors included: L.D. Brumbaugh, William Brunt, John Allen, Ted Gross Jr, Joel Gold, Joseph Hayden, Ted Russell, Art Jackson, Les Kaper, Walter Meves, Dr. Donald Miller Jr., Roger Ziegelmeier, Victor Marshall, and Florence Wahlberg, with Ziegelmeier serving as the first president.
Initially the Chamber board encouraged members to work together to improve their properties, making them more attractive to residents and visitors. While the term “Shop Local” hadn’t been coined at that time, Chamber members realized they had to keep residents shopping in town to keep their business doors open. To improve the look of the community, the Chamber board urged the Town to create an Unsafe Building Department to eliminate many old summer cottages that had been left empty by out of town owners. The Chamber board was also concerned about the lake and the ability to sustain the tourism industry that sparked business in the summer months. They worked with the Town and State of Indiana to instigate a project to determine what could be done to improve the water quality. This resulted in the awarding of the first large grant to study the lake.
To increase the use of the lake for fishing, the Chamber formed a committee to host an Adult Fishing Contest offering cash prizes for anglers catching tagged fish. They also put together a program with the state to stock the lake with hybrid bass called stripers.
Through the years, the Chamber’s list of firsts included:
- laying the ground work for the communities first industrial park
- working with developers to bring in new business
- donating land to the town for the lakefront park on Lake Shore Drive
- starting the first 4th of July celebration
- hosting the first Garden Walk, Realtor Boat Tour and Kid’s Free Fishing Derby
- and with the Town Council of Cedar Lake, hosting the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra on the lakefront
In the late 1980’s, working with the Cedar Lake Town Council, the Cedar Lake Park and Recreation Department and a grant from the State of Indiana, the Chamber was able to develop a property on the lakefront and build a Welcome Center. At the same time, they improved the adjoining state-owned property which is the State of Indiana public access site.
Today, people come from all over the United States and many foreign countries, stopping at the Welcome Center for information about the town and the area in general. They often sit at picnic tables located near the water and enjoy the ambiance gentle waters offer.
The Cedar Lake Chamber of Commerce is part of a small community that many Americans dream of, where the welcome sign is always in place.