MUNSTER | Munster is the first Northwest Indiana town to make a financial commitment to One Region, the new not-for-profit organization that is focusing on 16 regional initiatives.
One Region merges the Northwest Indiana Quality of Life Council and the One Region, One Vision initiative launched five years ago by The Times Media Co.
Among those 16 initiatives are the Gary Regional Investment Project, the Northwest Indiana Healthcare Council, Green Vision Project, Success by Six and the Race Relations Council — all geared toward improving the region's quality of life.
One Region Executive Director Dennis Rittenmeyer made a presentation to the Munster Town Council on Monday.
Council members then voted unanimously to commit $13,000 during the next four years to the project’s regional work. The money will come from the Munster Economic Development Fund, which has a $27,000 cash balance.
This year, the town of Munster will pay $1,000. Each of the years through 2016, the town will pay One Region $3,000.
Some region cities already have been approached to financially support the not-for-profit One Region effort with $5,000-a-year contributions, Rittenmeyer said.
To date, the cities of Crown Point, Valparaiso and Gary have committed those funds.
“Other communities said they would commit some funding, but not $5,000 a year,” he said.
Rittenmeyer said he wanted to approach the town of Munster first because he is a town resident. He agreed to come back every year to update the Town Council on One Region’s progress.
Major industries including NIPSCO, Peoples Bank and The Times Media Co. have already committed $300,000 to the project’s work.
Town Manager Tom DeGiulio said the economic development fund was created in the 1980s as a part of several state economic development grants.
“It’s a very good project to start to think regionally,” Munster Councilman Joseph Simonetto said of One Region.
Councilman Andy Koultourides called the One Region effort “a breath of fresh air.”