Northwest Indiana Forum President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Maassel is leaving the regional business group to become vice president of the Indiana Energy Association, a utility trade group based in Indianapolis.
Maassel, who had previously been president of NIPSCO and is known for his community involvement, had led the Portage-based regional economic development organization for the last three years.
"I have been and continue to be excited by the work of the Forum and the progress we have made," Maassel said. "However in the time I have served, my passion for the gas and electric utility has not waned. Though I will truly miss the dedicated group of business leaders, partners and staff here in Northwest Indiana, the unique opportunity presented itself and I look forward to tackling the various issues affecting the utility industry today."
Maassel said he was returning to his roots in the utility sector. He worked for NIPSCO for three decades, holding various senior-level positions before he was promoted to president. He also is a registered professional engineer and an attorney who had served of counsel with the law firm Krieg DeVault.
The Northwest Indiana Forum will continue to conduct business as usual while it looks to fill the executive position. The organization is a voice of the local business community that works to retain good jobs and promote more economic development. The group also works on environmental issues that would have an impact on the Northwest Indiana economy, such as pollution in Lake Michigan.
The privately funded nonprofit organization has more than 120 members, and serves Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Starke, Jasper, Newton and Pulaski counties.
Forum staff will continue to actively promote Northwest Indiana, try to convince companies to relocate or expand in the region, and share reasons why it makes sense for businesses to be in the area.
Both leads and projects have increased during Maassel's tenure. He said he was proud of successful efforts to recruit companies such as Modern Drop Forge, which planned to bring 250 jobs to Merrillville, and Fronius USA, which may add as many as 500 jobs in Portage.
He said he was most proud of the Ready NWI educational initiative that tries to enhance the job skills of students coming out of high school so they are ready for the workforce. The Forum also has strengthened its ties with state government, he said.
Maassel, a Sagamore of the Wabash recipient who has been inducted into the Northwest Indiana Business and Industry Hall of Fame, plans to keep his longtime home in Porter County and continue to serve on the Valparaiso School Board. He will step down from 10 other boards, including the Porter County Community Foundation, the Crisis Center and Calumet College of St. Joseph.
He will resign from the Forum on Oct. 15 and start his new job with the Indiana Energy Association the next day. In his new role, Maassel will help lead the association's public policy efforts.
"While some may say we are losing a leader, Northwest Indiana has a friend who can carry the positive message about our region throughout our state," said Forum board chair Jill Ritchie.