2017 Business & Industry Hall of Fame logo

The Times’ Business & Industry Hall of Fame is 10 years old this year, and our luncheon again will be a signature event in the Region.

We will welcome Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University and former governor of Indiana, as keynote speaker on May 16 at Avalon Manor in Merrillville.

Daniels received our Partner in Progress award in 2008 and spoke at the Hall of the Fame event. It’s fitting that he returns in this big year for Purdue Northwest and the Region.

An outstanding group of Hall of Fame inductees will be honored, including a Region native who has made his mark in the wider world through both the reach of his business and the reach of his giving.

Munster native Joseph Mansueto is the founder of Morningstar Inc., which revolutionized the way people buy mutual funds with its straightforward star rating system. The company has grown into a leading provider of investment research on four continents, with Mansueto today serving as executive chairman.

His giving has been both global and local, including $25 million given by Mansueto and his wife, Rita, to help fund a new University of Chicago library and $1 million for merit awards for teachers at Munster schools.

This year’s Partner in Progress award, by contrast, goes to someone who could have the title “Mr. Region.”

Don Babcock works a day job as director of economic development for NIPSCO, and evenings find him contributing time and talent to any number of economic development organizations. He has been a true partner in progress, having a big hand in bringing companies like Alcoa Howmet, Hoist Liftruck and Pratt Industries to the Region.

Raymundo Garcia and Karen Maravilla are being inducted into the Hall of Fame as a team, a natural for a couple known for their promotion of downtown Hammond, both through their business interests and their non-stop activities on its behalf.

Through the years, they have worked tirelessly to serve everyone regardless of ethnic, political or economic status, carrying on the legacy of the Taco Real Restaurant started by Raymundo's parents 45 years ago.

Craig Dwight will join the Hall of Fame class for keeping his banking and his giving local. As president and CEO of Michigan City-based Horizon Bank, he has significantly expanded the bank's footprint and services while continuing to offer customers a full-service alternative to big national and international banks.

He has been campaign chairperson for major fundraisers with United Way, Boys & Girls Clubs and the Martin Luther King Center and participated in any other number of charitable endeavors.

High-tech often is touted as the future of the Region, but for Hall of Fame inductee Robert Johnson III the future already is here. He founded and helms Merrillville-based computer security provider CIMCOR, keeping clients' systems safe around the world with its proprietary CimTrak anti-hacking software.

He has served on a broad array of educational boards, including those of the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana and Purdue Alumni Calumet.

This year's Hall of Fame Enterprise of the Year is a business where things never seem to stop moving, whether it's the 600,000 tourists visiting it each year or the addition of new and innovative displays and attractions.

Fair Oaks Farms, an agri-tourism attraction and fully working farm in Jasper County, added a crop adventure in 2016 and laid the groundwork for $230 million in future projects, including a cheese factory and hotel.

In addition, it has partnered with Coca-Cola to distribute and market products, such as Fair Life ultra-filtered milk, nationwide.

Congratulations to all of the Hall of Fame inductees, who will be featured in an upcoming issue of IN Business magazine.

The 10th annual Business & Industry induction luncheon promises to be a great event at Avalon Manor on May 16. Tickets are $50, and corporate tables are available.

You can reserve your seats at www.nwi.com/halloffame or by contacting Debbie Reilly at (219) 933-3329 or debbie.reilly@nwi.com.

Farewell to a leader

Keith Benman started at The Times 15 years ago as a business reporter, and is in his third year of serving as business editor.

He’s done a fantastic job and has been here for the start of The Times Business & Industry Hall of Fame, our annual 20 under 40 event and IN Business magazine.

“We’ve been a voice for the business community,” he said. “We’ve kept readers informed of trends in business, of consumer and pocketbook issues.”

Benman will leave The Times next Friday as he and his family return to Upstate New York and begin a new chapter.

He leaves Northwest Indiana at a time of great potential after years of covering some issues that never went forward.

“The biggest change I have seen is in the Region’s ability to pull together on big projects,” he said, mentioning the Gary/Chicago International Airport and the South Shore rail expansion. “It’s been a huge change. The RDA (Regional Development Authority) model facilitated a lot of it.”

Benman has been a leader in increasing readership of our business news through a growing email newsletter and our popular nwi.com app with a distinct business channel. We invite you to sign up for the Business Briefing newsletter and others at nwi.com/email and to download our free app.

Please join me in wishing him well. He can be reached at keith.benman@nwi.com until Friday.

Thanks for reading us. Please contact me with any questions about The Times or our many publications.

Bob Heisse is editor of The Times Media Co. He can be reached at (219) 933-3327 or bob.heisse@nwi.com.

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Bob is editor of The Times Media Co. He started in Northwest Indiana in April 2014 following stints as executive editor of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., and The Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.