CEOs rubbed shoulders with environmentalists, Republicans with Democrats, politicians with constituents, and students with mentors at the first One Region awards luncheon, which is intended to be an annual event.
Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels provided both the serious analysis and the wisecracks as Democratic U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky served as conciliator-in-chief.
"In times of great strife and great upset in this country, it's great to know people can come together and work for something positive," Visclosky said.
Daniels played professor, perhaps anticipating his next job as Purdue president, in presenting a PowerPoint on state finances. But before that, he played class clown and had his audience roaring with quips directed at neighboring Illinois.
He told how he gave his cellphone number to one Illinois CEO thinking of locating in Indiana. The corporate chieftain informed him that when a governor gives you his cell number in Illinois, it means something else entirely.
Times Media Co. Publisher Bill Masterson Jr. pointed out not everyone who wanted to be there could be, as the event sold out, with 630 people in the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza ballroom enjoying lunch.
U.S. Steel, local hospitals, colleges, Family Express and mayors all pitched in to sponsor the event.
It was the first major conference held since the One Region initiative started by Masterson five years ago merged with the venerable Quality of Life Council.