Bringing community to the storefront

Lindsay Wargo

T.N. Bhargava said when something good comes along, you do it.

That is why he sold his building, which has housed Portage Travel Service since 1966, to Leadership Portage County.

Leadership Portage County is a non-profit organization that hosts community leadership programs for youth and adults.

“I think this is absolutely the best thing that could happen to the building,” Bhargava said, adding that the building is going to a great business.

Karen Claxton, executive director of Leadership Portage County, said the organization has been around for 14 years “through the generosity of many people. Now it’s time to find a permanent home.”

Leadership Portage County was able to buy the building with the help of donations from the Burbick Foundation and the Bhargavas. Claxton said before the organization had to beg for and borrow space.

She said the new space will give the organization the room to provide more leadership training and day or half-day seminars on topics such as strategic planning, time management and ethical issues in the workplace.

Bhargava said Portage Travel will still conduct business as usual in the back portion of the building. Also, the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce visitor’s center will be moved to the storefront of the building, making it more visible to the Kent community. The storefront was previously occupied by Gallery 138.

“I’m only sorry that Gallery 138 won’t be there, which I loved,” Bhargava said. “I’ll miss them.”

He said he thinks the move will be good for the city and improve the quality of life for the community.

Dan Smith, executive director of the Kent Area Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber will be much more visible and accessible at its new location. He said the storefront will make it possible for the chamber to participate in more downtown events. He also said the partnership with Leadership Portage County will create synergy between the two groups.

The chamber provides many services to the Kent community, including visitors’ guides, maps and phone books.

The official move date for the chamber and Leadership Portage County is Jan. 28, and the organizations will be open for business Jan. 31.

Bhargava said he is happy for Leadership Portage County.

“I’m 72 now, so you have to think about what’s ahead of you,” Bhargava said.

Contact public affairs reporter Lindsay Wargo at [email protected].