HAMMOND | A diversity of innovation across Northwest Indiana was recognized Tuesday at the Indiana Welcome Center.
The Pride & Pedestal: Pass the Torch of Innovation event introduced 12 innovators from the seven-county region who demonstrated their ingenuity. The event was sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana.
The 2012 NWI All-Star Innovation Team included Larry Brewer, founder of South Shore Dance Alliance.
After a performance by his dancers, Brewer said the alliance is an innovator because it takes an expensive venture such as dance and brings in professional instructors from New York, Chicago and Gary to provide direction to young people at an affordable cost or even for free.
Brewer said one of the alliance's dancers has gone on to The Juilliard School. Others from Gary and the region have had opportunities to perform in major cities, he said.
"We ask the kids to do more than they think they can do," he said.
Another innovator honored Thursday was William Halliar, who launched the Alternative Power Initiative to encourage ideas for power sources through the Race for the Future. The initiative is sponsored by Whiting.
"We're all dreamers, that's why we're here tonight," Halliar said. "The real innovator goes beyond the dream. The dream has passion, and to the passion he adds a plan of attack, which translates into action."
Halliar said all innovators have one trait in common: People who want to make a difference in the world and wish to leave behind them a better place.
"Whatever your idea, whatever your passion — get started," Halliar said. "Humankind is awaiting your genius."
Innovators honored included the Hobart Latex Paint Recycling Center; dentist Kevin Brunski; Julie Rizzo, president of US Greenworks and executive director of My Choice Recycling; nurse Joan Dorman; Karen Hannon, Lounge N Lax; Dr. Blake K. Zuidema; IVDiagnostics; the Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation at Purdue University Calumet; lawyer Charlie Weaver; and Tom Sourlis, founder of Mortar Net.
Ivy Tech Community College Northwest Chancellor J. Guadalupe Valtierra said innovators are those who are willing to fail knowing there is a chance of success in the process.
"What unifies them is an innovation that rests upon an idea," he said.