Last-minute gift ideas to make even the most dedicated procrastinator proud

Among holiday treats at Albanese Candy in Merrillville are triple dipped chocolate malt balls and peanuts.

Tony V. Martin, The Times

Our state and Region are becoming better at identifying and pursuing new ways of expanding our economy, improving our quality of life and growing available jobs.

But sometimes we forget to celebrate the existing assets that continue the self-perpetuating cycle of reinvesting in our community.

Merrillville-based candy giant, Albanese, recently announced a $33 million expansion serving as a prime example of this beneficial cycle.

The company is slated to add up to 150 jobs to its Region candy manufacturing business.

Its delicacies of gummy bears, chocolates and so many other treats continue to pay off for our Region through jobs, tax revenue and tourism for the folks who flock to the Willy Wonka-esque factory and store on U.S. 30.

The Albanese announcement was just the chocolate-covered cherry on top of a wave other stellar Region and state economic news in recent days.

New York financial technology company, Smart Asset, reported Lake County had the second-fastest growing economy in Indiana during the last four years.

Lake County, the state's second-most populated, generated $1.1 billion in gross domestic product growth within the last four years, a 4.87 percent increase. The county ranked 154th in economic growth nationally.

Marion County, where Indianapolis is based, experienced $2.7 billion in economic growth over the same four-year period, a 7.32 percent increase, according to Smart Asset.

Lake County ranked ahead of Allen, Hamilton, Saint Joseph, Vanderburgh and Elkhart counties.

Porter County ranked eighth statewide and 360th nationally in economic growth with a GDP increase of $577 million, or 3.93 percent, over the four-year period that was tracked in the study.

For a Region regularly down on its self for perceived deficiencies, this study certainly offers a different financial light.

None of these things happened by accident. Good planning, our Region’s prime crossroads location and the proliferation of viable businesses are to be thanked, among other factors.

These economic successes are a reminder to keep forging ahead, seeking new opportunities for growth while celebrating the things that make our Region work so well.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase, Editor Bob Heisse, Politics/History Editor Doug Ross and Managing Editor Erin Orr.