A new collaboration among Northwest Indiana young leadership groups has put out a call to action to expand the South Shore line, and a host of local businesses, universities and organizations have joined the Emerging Leaders Network in its cause.
The Emerging Leaders Network looks to serve as the bridge between Northwest Indiana professionals and county, state and federal elected officials regarding personal, professional and social issues.
Its first mission is a joining the call to action for the local funds needed to make the South Shore extension to Dyer a reality. The group is hosting an event March 10 at the Avalon Manor in Hobart featuring a keynote address from U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., who has championed the cause for the South Shore expansion.
Matt Glaros, spokesman for the Emerging Leaders Network, said young people care about having the transportation they want and the accessibility to Chicago. He said the South Shore extension is a key driver for keeping people here.
“I think it could ultimately change the landscape of Northwest Indiana,” Glaros said.
Emerging Leaders Network is made up of local leadership groups including Emerge South Shore, NWI Leaders Young Professional Group, Emerging Leaders of Northwest Indiana, the Urban League NWI Young Professionals and Young Leaders United.
“It’s a group of young people coming together for the common good of the area,” Glaros said. “The hope is we can show a united front across both age and racial lines that we’re all in support of this. We just want the best thing for the area.”
Eddie Melton, of NIPSCO, was part of one of the groups that joined Emerging Leaders and said the group will set an example of collaboration beyond borders and beyond various backgrounds to find an opportunity to work on an initiative that will help further the region.
“I think this is a great opportunity to start out with and look at various initiatives that we as emerging leaders can coalesce around in the future,” he said. “It shows a great example of collaboration regardless of where you’re from and your experiences and background. We want to set a great example for the future leaders of tomorrow.”
Northwest Indiana universities — including Calumet College of St. Joseph, Indiana University Northwest, Purdue North Central, Purdue University Calumet and Valparaiso University — have pledged letters of support that will be sent to various state and local officials.
A number of businesses, and organizations supporting the commuter rail extension also are part of the effort. They including Andrean High School, the Crossroads Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors, Lake Area United Way, Land O'Frost Inc., the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and The Times Media Co.
The event, Laying Tracks for the Future, will be from 6 to 8 p.m. March 10 at the Avalon Manor at 3550 E. U.S. 30 in Hobart.
Attendees will have the opportunity to hear the benefits of the South Shore line expansion from Hammond to Dyer, as well as hearing first-hand accounts from professionals based in Northwest Indiana whose lives would change with more access to Chicago.
Attendees should RSVP to Pat Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 923-2302 ext. 301.