VALPARAISO | The One Region initiative to improve the quality of life in Northwest Indiana continues to grow as it is embraced by new people and organizations, Times Media Co. publisher Bill Masterson Jr. said Monday.
Masterson, who co-chairs the effort, and One Region Executive Director Dennis Rittenmeyer spoke to Valparaiso Rotary Club members at their regular meeting at Strongbow Inn.
One Region was formed last May after the merger of the former Quality of Life Council and One Region, One Vision. The three-county initiative seeks regional cooperation by reaching across geopolitical boundaries to work in the best interests of all Northwest Indiana residents.
“This doesn't mean we have to collaborate on everything, but when it does make sense, we shouldn't let boundaries or political affiliations be a hindrance,” Masterson said.
One Region supports 16 initiatives including a mayor's roundtable, healthcare council, and a project to revitalize the region’s urban core.
Masterson said the mayor's roundtable meets six times a year and discusses issues “off the record.”
The roundtable has fostered cooperation between cities including the sharing of resources as when Valparaiso sent city crews to Crown Point to clean up debris after a storm, Masterson said.
Other initiatives include the Northwest Indiana Chamber of Commerce Coalition and a public safety committee. The chamber coalition examines ways to jointly promote business, while the public safety committee unites law enforcement to improve communication and leverage each others' resources.
Rittenmeyer said One Region will present summits to address some of the most problematic issues facing Northwest Indiana residents.
This Wednesday, the One Region READY initiative will sponsor a summit at Avalon Manor in Hobart to raise awareness of workforce issues, job growth and alignment skills in the region. The Northwest Indiana Workforce Board will present Workforce Summit 2013 to help better prepare high school students for college and careers after graduation.
Rittenmeyer said a new health committee is being created to focus more specifically on the health of residents and not necessarily on delivering health care. Planning continues for a health summit to convene this fall, he said.
Masterson said while there's much more work to be done, the conversation and cooperation has begun, and the region is changing its image. This unity will help the region leverage its position in Indiana and throughout the Chicago area, he said.
“We've got to come out of here with one united voice,” Masterson said.