Those who live here know Northwest Indiana is a unique place.
Even so, I suggest you get in your car and spend a day seeing the many and diverse sights of the region. You'll be surprised what you can learn.
From lush rolling ground in West Creek Township near Lowell to sculptures in Munster to beauty of the chapel at Valparaiso University or the flowing sands of the Indiana dunes, there is no region like ours.
To list the variety of sites would make for far too long a reading.
But just as the region's geographic sites are varied, so, too, are its people. Name an ethnic group — Eastern European, Asian, Hispanic and so on. They are all a part of Northwest Indiana.
It's this variety that makes us special and unique. It's also what calls us to band together for the good of all.
And it is for this reason the One Region, One Vision initiative was begun in 2008.
With so many voices, so many demands and yet such conflict, the initiative has helped build a bridge of understanding and purpose.
Today, there are 10 spin-off initiatives from One Region, One Vision. From the Northwest Indiana Healthcare Council to the mayor's roundtable to GRIP, the Gary Region Investment Project, people are gathering and advancing ideas to better our community.
This comes at a time when the opportunity for Northwest Indiana is great.
Already, the Regional Development Authority has proved its value. A park in Portage, work to expand the Gary/Chicago International Airport and other region-building projects are under way.
The region's planning agency, the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, is nearly complete with a 2040 transportation plan.
And colleges and universities throughout the area are growing enrollment and physical investments.
Then, too, look at the $1 billion investment being made by BP at Whiting, or the $250 million project of U.S. Steel in Gary.
Northwest Indiana is a growing region. Its assets far outweigh its liabilities.
And with Illinois becoming the king of taxes, the business climate here beckons our neighbors to move east.
This year truly presents an enormous opportunity for Northwest Indiana.
All that is required is that we recognize how very unique an opportunity we have, and act, showing our diversity is our strength. As has been said by others but is so true for Northwest Indiana — United We Can.
William Nangle is executive editor of The Times. He can be reached at The Times, 601 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.