Indiana using artificial intelligence to power job search website –

  • Lauren
  • March 10, 2021
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Joseph S. Pete

Joseph S. Pete

Indiana has launched a new job search website powered by artificial intelligence.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development launched the Hoosier Talent Network, which was designed by the Silicon Valley startup Eightfold AI. The website seeks to match jobseekers to the right opportunities, help companies hire with equal-opportunity algorithms that aim to eliminate bias, and suggest skills jobseekers may want to master to make themselves more employable or advance their careers.

The website connects jobseekers to open positions across Indiana that fit their education and qualifications, as well as positions where they could easily learn the requisite skills while on the job.
The state is launching the website in conjunction with Eightfold AI in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has resulted in more than 10.1 million people being unemployed at the end of the year, including 144,000 Hoosiers. 
Indiana’s average unemployment rate for 2020 was 7.1%, a year-over-year increase of nearly 4 percentage points, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“This is a state-supported program dedicated to bringing our people back to work,” Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne said. “We are here to support those in need, and the Hoosier Talent Network is another resource the DWD offers to help Hoosiers improve their lives.”

The DWD estimates there are 100,000 jobs in an array of occupations and experience levels that need to be filled across the state. The new website recommended good fits for job seekers after they upload their resume or fill out a profile listing their work history, skills and hobbies.
Indiana also runs the free Indiana Career Connect job site that lists job openings across the state.
For more information, visit

Region Records expands to four locations

Classic rock fan and longtime record collector Josh Becerra founded Region Records in downtown Griffith more than a half decade ago, and business has been rocking.His record store has grown so much, especially as the coronavirus pandemic motivated more record collectors to pursue the hobby, that the business has expanded to four locations across Northwest Indiana.Region Records recently moved its main location to 2720 Highway Ave. in downtown Highland and converted its original spot at 208 E. Main St. in downtown Griffith to have more of a focus on vintage collectibles, including novelty vinyl records. It also opened the Indiana Dunes Record Company at 108 Lincoln St. in Porter and is selling a selection of thousands of records at the Crown Antique Mall at 545 E. 110th Ave. in Crown Point.”The Highland store is a lot bigger than Griffith, like three or four times bigger,” he said. “We have a lot of high-end stereo equipment and a lot of records. Our stereo equipment is nice. I think more and more about people getting serious into vinyl records and then getting a cheap player at Target or Walmart that doesn’t sound any better than a CD on a boom box, which defeats the whole point of vinyl. You have to listen to it to hear the difference.”

Joe Ruffalo, The Times

New home base in downtown Highland

Region Records took over a former dry cleaner and cobbler shop next to the Les Cafe Pancake House.”We have way more foot traffic,” Becerra said. “At the old location, we had the same guys coming in every week. Now we have Les Cafe next door that hundreds of people visit. We’re where the action is. It’s happening and booming.”His father previously operated Highland Card and Comic on Kennedy Avenue, so Becerra wanted to have a store in downtown Highland. The new store has a different look and aesthetic than the old one.”It’s more condensed,” he said. “There was a lot of junk in the Griffith store. We’re moving away from that.”

Joe Ruffalo, The Times

WATCH NOW: Region Records expands to Highland

New locations in Porter and Crown Point

Becerra will sell more of his record collection at the all-vinyl Indiana Dunes Record Company in downtown Porter, in the Duneland section of Porter County, and at a booth at the Crown Antique Mall where the records are discounted.”When I built the first store I couldn’t even afford tables,” he said. “We had records in cardboard boxes. Now we have a big store right off the bat. We’d like to do live music, art shows and art lessons to give back to the community, but have to wait for COVID-19 to get under control.”The original location, now rebranded as Region Collectibles, is focusing on horror, sci-fi, comedy and other nostalgic records that evoke good memories. Becerra’s dad is keeping the location going by “running wild with collectibles.” But more space was needed to cater to the growing demand for vinyl records.”People are stuck at home and any kind of hobby is booming,” he said. “Anything is upgrading from TV, whether that’s upgrading a stereo system or buying a lot of records. Records have definitely been booming lately.”

Joe Ruffalo, The Times

The new Hegewisch Records or Woodmar Records?

The Highland store has about 40,000 records in stock, with about 500 to 1,000 new arrivals coming in per week.All genres have been selling well.”Two years ago it was all rock and roll, but now jazz and country and soul are getting bigger,” he said. “People are looking for the rare, weird and expensive. We buy what people bring in and have a big collection. It’s random. You can never tell what we’ll sell next. We have classic rock, the blues, a little bit of everything.”The record store sells vinyl records from local bands and displays vintage memorabilia from Hegewisch Records and Woodmar Records.”People come in and talk about what those stores meant to them,” he said. “People almost start crying. They have so many good memories.” 

Joe Ruffalo, The Times

‘I don’t make it my goal to sell things but if I don’t sell things we’ll go out of business’

Region Records guarantees its prices are lower than what’s available online.”One of our biggest mission statements is that we’re cheaper than what’s on the internet,” he said. “We just want to be a space to do artistic things like open mics. We just want to be a place to be creative, but we’re retail-driven. I don’t make it my goal to sell things, but if I don’t sell things we’ll go out of business, so that’s my focus. You don’t have to be an audiophile to appreciate what we have. You can be 10 years old.”Region Records is open from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Region Collectibles in Griffith is open from noon until 6 p.m. on weekends, while Indiana Dunes Record Company is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.For more information, call 219-702-4414 or find the business on Facebook.

Joe Ruffalo, The Times

HassleLess Mattress opened in Hobart

HassleLess Mattress has opened a new location at U.S. 30 just east of the Southlake Mall.The chain has stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, including at 2871 E. Lincoln Highway in Hobart.It bills itself as “employee-free,” stressing a convenient buying experience.”Hassleless’s Merrillville mattress store carries a wide line of affordable and comfortable mattresses. With no in-store employees, shopping for a mattress has never been easier,” the company said in a news release. “Stop in today at our Merrillville showroom to try out your new mattress without anyone breathing down your neck.”For more information, call 414-671-9303, email [email protected] or visit

Joseph S. Pete

Golden Leaf coming to Chesterton

Golden Leaf Cigar and Spirits plans to soon start selling cigars at a new location in Chesterton.The cigar shop, which also has locations in Hobart and Michigan City, is installing a humidor at its new Duneland location. The cigar bar and lounge will be located in a new strip mall at 3093 Village Point Road next to Abbiocco Restaurant off Ind. 49 and the Indiana Toll Road.Billing itself as “Indiana’s premier cigar destination,” it carries top brands like  Perdomo, La Gloria Cubana, Macanudo, Drew Estate and Padron. It also offers accessories and cigar lockers for members.For more information, call 219-250-5656, visit or find the business on Facebook. 

Joseph S. Pete

WATCH NOW: Upcoming Cigar Lounge to come to Chesterton

The Northside Diner in downtown Chesterton has temporarily closed

The stalwart Northside Diner has temporarily closed in downtown Chesterton.The old-school breakfast and lunch joint at 100 N. Calumet Road, which was named the best diner in all of northern Indiana by the Indiana’s Cool North tourism campaign in 2018, said it will be back.”Due to issues preventing us from opening (not COVID related), we had to close earlier than we had expected. We apologize for any inconvenience,” the traditional American restaurant posted on Instagram. “We are NOT closed permanently! Any gift cards that you received over the holidays have no expiration date and will be honored when we reopen. @nsdfoodtruck will be back in the spring with some exciting plans for this year! Stay posted to that account for further information.”Known for its vintage Hollywood mural, the diner slings breakfast like omelets, loaded hash browns and chorizo tacos, as well as throwback lunch fare like club sandwiches, patty melts and tuna melts.If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email [email protected]

Kale Wilk, The Times

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