As we now move into our fifth year of providing an annual progress edition, the One Region, One Vision initiative has continued to evolve from the modest challenge to a movement being embraced on so many levels by many different people and organizations.
From Gary to Valparaiso, from the National Park Service to the medical industry, groups and individuals have committed to cooperate with one another while moving forward in a positive manner.
I said this last year, but it bears saying again. To say I didn't know what I was getting into probably would be an understatement, but to say I was surprised about the commitment, the results and the hundreds of government, business and industry leaders who would join The Times in this journey would be another understatement.
The response has been overwhelming; so has the work and the reward. Our main goal of uniting and igniting progress in commerce, education and good government has become a reality. The region was ready for economic development and tired of redundancy, inefficiency and waste that discourages investment and growth.
This year, leaders like new mayors Karen Freeman-Wilson, of Gary, Anthony Copeland, of East Chicago, and James Snyder, of Portage, have committed and are showing signs of addressing that very inefficiency and waste that has plagued the region for so many years.
Leaders like Linda Woloshansky and Mark Maassel, who have put emphasis on creating and providing jobs for those highly trained young people coming into the workforce. People like school superintendents Peggy Buffington, Teresa Eineman, Sharon Johnson Shirley and Mike Berta, who all have demonstrated the incredible commitment to our youth.
People like NIPSCO CEO Jimmy Staton and team who have not only committed more than $1 million but also expertise to help the Boys & Girls Club provide a safe environment for youths in Gary. People like Keith Kirkpatrick with Leadership Northwest Indiana, who is committed to educating, organizing and motivating the next set of talented individuals who will be leading this region for the next several years. And graduates from Kirkpatrick's LNI program like Eddie Melton, who is not waiting until us old guys move out to make a difference and is already uniting and mobilizing the "next generation" of leaders.
I said this in a speech in 2011, but I really want to say it again to everyone. Downstate they call us "The Region." They don't call us "The Region minus Munster" or "The Region minus Valpo." Regardless of where you live in Lake or Porter or LaPorte County, you are part of "The Region." It's time we vote, support and communicate "The Region." Be proud of "The Region."
This year you will see your Times Media Co. spend more time and resources covering all the things people are doing positive in the region. And that will be a tall task based on what I see happening.
At The Times, we continue to evolve and bring our audience information in all formats. We recently launched our NWI Times iPad app along with a revamped and robust mobile site. Our hyperlocal community sites continue to grow and will become more and more a very important part of how we deliver news and information to our users. If you are unfamiliar with these sites, this is where we engage readers and leaders at the most basic levels -- your schools, churches, coffee shops, youth centers and backyards -- important news that we cannot cover that we need help with from our own network. If you haven't seen them, please check out the community tab at the top of nwi.com.
Five years ago, we launched this special NWI Now! edition to celebrate the progress we were making. From that beginning, a higher purpose has evolved. I hope you will sit back and enjoy the next few weeks' inserts that will highlight what is so great about Northwest Indiana.
Bill Masterson Jr. is publisher of The Times Media Co.