Crown Point Mayor David Uran discusses accomplishments of various city departments during the State of City event at Bulldog Park in downtown Crown Point. He is resigning to become president and CEO of South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. Staff file photo by Jeffrey D. Nicholls

Jeffrey D. Nicholls, File, The Times
Crown Point Mayor David Uran discusses accomplishments of various city departments during the State of City event at Bulldog Park in downtown Crown Point. He is resigning to become president and CEO of South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority. Staff file photo by Jeffrey D. Nicholls Jeffrey D. Nicholls, File, The Times
CROWN POINT — Longtime Mayor David Uran aims to build upon the success he's had drawing visitors to Crown Point on a broader scale as Lake County's new tourism chief.

The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority is hiring Uran to serve as its next president and CEO. He will step down with a year and a half remaining on his fourth term as mayor of Crown Point.

"We want to grow tourism and make Northwest Indiana a destination place visitors can enjoy and where the people who live here can have positive interaction with entertainment," he said. "The CVA promotes Northwest Indiana hospitality and tourism, whether to our casinos, shorelines, shopping or sports tourism. We've had a lot of success with sports tourism in Crown Point and want to replicate that to make Lake County a better place."

South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority Board Chair Andy Qunell said the board selected Uran for the executive role based in large part on his success with amateur sports in Crown Point, such as by bringing the National Softball Association World Series that draws 10,000 visitors a year.

"Over the last 14 years as mayor, I've helped promote investment, worked with business owners and promoted the amateur sports business," Uran said. "We've brought in leagues and given them places to play and converted that into tourism opportunities to showcase our community. It brings in revenue we can reinvest in other places like police, fire and infrastructure. We can partner with businesses to spread out our taxes so we don't have to raise our tax rate."

While his compensation still needs to be negotiated, he's slated to start in the new executive role with the Hammond-based SSCVA at the end of May. He plans to step down on the last day to give Democratic precinct committeemen enough time to pick a new mayor.

"I assured the county chair and want the residents and council to know there will be a smooth transition to the new mayor," he said.

Uran, first elected to office in 2007, said he was proud of his time as mayor overseeing the city of more than 30,000 residents.

"I assembled a great team and got buy-in from residents and the business community to move the city forward in the right direction," he said. "I've always compared being mayor to the coach of a team, where you're coaching the talent to make it a better place to call home."

He said the opportunity to take over the SSCVA, the Indiana Welcome Center-based tourism agency that markets Lake County to the world, was too good to pass up.

"I said I would never run for higher office, and I'm not, as this is a full-time position I was hired for," he said. "I absolutely love my current position and wasn't looking to leave, but this became available. I'm passionate about tourism, sports and hospitality. The forefront of our vision is to replicate what we did in Crown Point across Northwest Indiana."

Uran cited several initiatives to bring people to the city, such as by hosting the St. Patrick's Day Parade and building Bulldog Park downtown.

"We've got a beautiful 12-month entertainment center where there's hockey, a farmer's market and event gathering area with regional and national talent," he said. "We want to bring that to people in other areas, showcase our Hoosier hospitality and give them an opportunity to reinvest in themselves and their quality of life. I want to work with stakeholders to provide them the resources they need to make that happen."

He said his experience working with other cities and towns would serve him well in his new role.

"We want to connect regionally with marketing and national conferences, including with neighboring states," he said. "We want to work with everybody who will share in the same vision in Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland and also along the shoreline in Michigan and Wisconsin. We want to collaborate to promote our exciting attractions."

Lake County has many amenities to draw people like the casinos, amateur sports, golf courses and the Lake Michigan lakefront, he said. Youth sports will play a big part of his strategy for "putting heads in beds" or attracting overnight visitors to stay at local hotels.

"Tourism had a $980 million impact on Lake County before the coronavirus and we can reestablish that and build on top of that," he said. "We've got a lot of amateur sports destinations and sports complexes in Hammond and other cities and towns. We've got great festivals like Pierogi Fest. We've got ice rinks like in Crown Point and indoor facilities in the Kube and the Midwest Training and Ice Center. We've got great shopping and dining."

Uran said the summer season should already be planned out, but he planned to meet with staff and various communities to evaluate everything going forward.

His goal is to make the Lake County hospitality sector "bigger and better." He's also looking for harmonious relations with the board and various communities.

"I've been communicating with the 19-member board throughout this process and want to be on the same page looking forward," he said. "I'm going to emphasize working with the municipalities, board of directors and staff in a positive way."

Uran sees the opportunity that emerged as the next chapter in his career of public service.

"The position was open and I applied for it," he said. "The opportunity came up. I was here to serve my community in Crown Point and now I'm going to broaden my horizons for the Region."
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