If you are a regular reader of The Times you probably know about the challenge I was given four years ago by State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, and the One Region, One Vision initiative that resulted from that meeting.
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.
But our main goal of unity to ignite progress in commerce, education and good government happened in the first year. The region was ready for economic development and tired of redundancy, inefficiency and waste that discourages investment and growth.
This engine for change and business development turned out to be too modest of a goal. One Region, One Vision turned into a mighty river with tributaries shooting off in all directions including transportation, alternative energy, programs for underprivileged kids, terrific innovations in health care products and services, and resurgence and renewal in the importance and attention that we give education at every level in Northwest Indiana.
We also have put emphasis on creating and providing jobs for those highly trained young people coming into the work force. Still too many leave the area, but the pace is slowing.
Every day you read in the newspaper and at nwi.com about the successes and spread of managed growth in every category of business and every sector of our counties. Yes, collaboration and cooperation work.
I can say that with certainty because I have witnessed it.
Do we have work to do? Without a doubt.
Here at The Times we are on a daily learning trajectory: Our latest project is rolling out hyper-local community sites 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.
Our readers and our communities are the backbone of our 24/7 report. Without your vigilance and commitment, we could not hope to do our job. Together we have strength; only together will we succeed.
Four years ago, we launched this special "NWI Now!" edition to celebrate the positive progress we were making. From that beginning a higher purpose has evolved.
Yes, we have much to discuss in these pages about the remarkable year we have had. (The Times of Northwest Indiana won the Enterprise of the Year award for our company, Lee Enterprises, in 2010. We are justifiably proud; it was not an easy year to be the best, but we are.) The purpose of the stories in this special edition also serve as a call to action and an inspiration for the year ahead.
I am sure you will find remarkable ideas here, but also amazing examples of what can be done against the odds and the conventional wisdom.
It leaves me convinced there are more miracles ahead.