It is indeed an exciting time to be a part of Northwest Indiana, a thriving region with great prospects for growth and a promise of a brighter future. People are coming together, working together like never before, and placing the good of the region ahead of more provincial interests, knowing the quality of life will be better for all if we address the most pressing needs, even if they’re not in our neighborhood.
This is evidenced by the decision to build the Illiana Expressway. Though it will be built in the southern half of the region, it was supported by communities across the entire region because we will all benefit from reduced congestion on the northern expressways.
There are many examples of the progress we’re making.
For instance, we've seen educators from throughout the region sign on and support the work of the READY NWI initiative, first established in Hobart, but quickly spreading throughout the region to most school districts, as a means to better prepare our students for the workforce of tomorrow.
Four groups of emerging leaders in Lake and Porter counties came together to form the Emerging Leaders Network under the guidance of the United Way to educate and show support for the expansion of the South Shore Line commuter railroad — and this happens as city and county governments plan to set aside a portion of their economic development income tax to fund the project.
The multimillion dollar investment in Marquette Park, the new home of the Boys & Girls Club in Gary and the expansion of parking at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk park are signs of the good that is happening across the region.
And the One Region initiative continues its work bringing organizations and interested parties together to form coalitions to tackle the big issues continuing to face the region.
These are but a few examples, and it’s important to recognize the gains we've made. Even so, our work is only just beginning. Today’s residents of the region enjoy the benefits of the work done by those who came before us. We inherited a strong transportation system with rail, highway and harbor infrastructure that are coveted by growing communities around the nation. This system didn't just happen. It was created by people like us who had a vision for what this area could be and who worked hard to create it.
It would be easy to sit back and enjoy what we have, but we owe future generations more than that. Just as our predecessors did, we must develop the vision to make the region an even better place and work together to make that vision a reality.
The coming year will provide us the opportunity to do just that, but what we choose to do will determine what our legacy is.
I believe one day soon, we’ll be able to look back and see 2014 as the year good things started to get much better.
What a great time to be living in Northwest Indiana!