GUEST COMMENTARY: Encouraging Innovation in Northwest Indiana

2014-03-30T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Encouraging Innovation in Northwest IndianaBy Richard Sussman nwitimes.com
March 30, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Hardly an hour passes in our time that the word innovation is not mentioned — in domestic and international news, commercials, Internet and publications. With good reason, as most people now see the power of creating new innovations in their companies, institutions and organizations. Innovation creates jobs, regional growth and fosters potential for improved quality of life. In our global economy, innovation has become essential for survival — Innovate or Perish.

Through the foresight of John Davies and Northwest Indiana regional leaders, the Society of Innovators was created in 2005 with insightful sponsorship from ArcelorMittal and the offices of Ivy Tech. Initially, the society mainly sought to identify and celebrate innovate contributors in any discipline in our region. Under O’Merrial Butchee, director of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, the society has flourished and awareness of innovation has grown.

Over the past 10 years, nearly 300 individual members and teams from the region’s seven counties have been inducted into the society. With support from the current 10 sponsors, new activities have been added, including interactive programs with school children, innovation workshops, and Innovator's Cafes.

Today’s edition of The Times includes an impressive insert celebrating innovation in our region and the Society of Innovators. The Times has expanded the annual insert this year with interesting articles contributed by leaders of companies and institutions that are a part of the foundation of the region’s economy.

As this year is the 10th anniversary of the formation of the society, the members of the Society Board of Governors have been planning a number of exciting events, particularly designed to spotlight the creative and innovative spirit among the youth of our community.

A video contest for high school students focusing on several inventive categories was initiated in February to encourage the next generation of innovators; the winners will be announced in May.

A new website, www.nwisoi.org, has been developed that highlights area innovation and activities of the society. A Leader’s Luncheon is planned for April 3 on the imperative of growing innovation over the next 10 years.

For the greater Northwest Indiana community, make special note of April 12. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the society is sponsoring a free family fun interactive Innovation Expo in the Jean Shepherd Community Center in Hammond.

In October, the 10th anniversary induction awards ceremony will be held after our rigorous selection process is completed.

Being part of the society since nearly its inception has been personally greatly rewarding. Teaming with O’Merrial, John, the other governors and volunteers has been especially inspiring because they unselfishly donate their time and talents in their belief that encouraging innovation fosters growth and economic development that can improve the quality of life in our region.

Richard Sussman, of Munster, is chairman of the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana. The opinions are the writer's.

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