Terry Kimmel Receives Robert E. Hamilton Award


A long-time banker and former Starke County Economic Development Foundation executive director has been given the foundation’s highest honor. Terry Kimmel was presented with the 2015 Robert E. Hamilton Award at Thursday’s Prospectus and Achievement Luncheon.

Kimmel worked for First Federal Savings and Loan of Valparaiso and stayed with the company through numerous name changes and mergers until it eventually became part of Fifth Third Bank. Additionally, he served as the Starke County Economic Development Foundation’s executive director from November of 2000 to July of 2005.

In his acceptance speech, he decided not to dwell upon his accomplishments at the foundation, but instead gave a couple pieces of advice for everyone in Starke County, “Number one: pray. Everybody has some problems they’re dealing with and trying to do they best they can; they can use your prayers. And number two is show up for work! Keep trying, get some extra education, and remember our industries take big risks and spend big money to be here and bring the jobs. Thank them.”

Current executive director Charlie Weaver says the choice of Kimmel is a departure from past winners, “This year, the recipient is a little bit different because he wasn’t born in Starke County. In fact, he never lived in Starke County. But he’s made a huge impact upon Starke County itself, and especially the economic vitality of this county and the opportunities for the people.” Weaver says Kimmel didn’t have to live in the county to devote his life to it.

Also during the luncheon, the Starke County Initiative for Lifelong Learning was recognized for receiving NIPSCO’s Luminary Award for its efforts in strengthening local communities in the area of education.

The event was part of the Starke County Economic Development Foundation’s celebration of Manufacturers Day held at Knox Middle School. The highlight of the day was an opportunity for seventh graders from all the county’s school districts to meet with manufacturing companies in the area and learn about what they make and the careers they have available.