The Northwest Indiana Forum hosted Canadian Consul General Roy Norton for a tour of the region to learn to learn about its advantages and discuss opportunities for Canadian businesses here.
Norton met with local mayors and regional economic developers and officials at Lost Marsh in Hammond before embarking on the tour. He said he was impressed with how much collaboration there appears to be within the region.
“People are obviously engaged in every community in economic development attraction activity,” he said. “You don’t always see that level of cooperation, it’s quite encouraging.”
The first congressional district of Indiana is part of the consulate in Chicago’s territory. Norton has been the consul general for less than two months. Previously he was the consul general in Detroit, where his territory included the nine other congressional districts in Indiana.
“I know the state well, but not this corner because it wasn’t mine,” he said.
Norton said in the past the consulate in Chicago tended to overlook Northwest Indiana.
“I’m not into overlooking this part,” he said. "I finally got the chance to lay claim to it and I decided to come and get to meet the people I should know. I’ll be in this job for four years and want to establish relationships early and work with people and work with people over that period of time.”
Norton admitted he assumed the region was “all about steel and petroleum.”
“I’ve met quite a few people engaged in the manufacturing of other things such as commodities of components for advanced manufacturing industries,” he said. “I found there is a lot of export to Canada.”
NWI Forum President Heather Ennis said they were thrilled Norton had the opportunity to visit and find out more about the region.
“We firmly believe it’s great to build relationships with our neighbors whether they’re one county away or way to the north of us,” she said. “You never know where the next opportunity is going to come from. We’re familiarizing ourselves with the way the Canadian process works and having them become more familiar with how our area is laid out and find out what opportunities and resources are here.”