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20 UNDER 40: Matt Saltanovitz combines business, economics and commitment to NWI
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20 UNDER 40: Matt Saltanovitz combines business, economics and commitment to NWI


Matt Saltanovitz has combined an interest in business and economics with a commitment to the community to forge a career that's taken him from the newsroom to the front lines of business development in Northwest Indiana.

Saltanovitz has been economic development director at the Northwest Indiana Forum since October 2014. The organization promotes a seven-county area to businesses worldwide.

"I'm so lucky I get to promote Northwest Indiana to businesses across the globe," Saltanovitz says. "What we do is truly a regional effort, working closely with local economic development officials."

The Northwest Indiana Forum has more than 130 members, including businesses, governmental agencies and other interested organizations. It focuses on attracting industrial, technological and professional management companies.

Prior to his work at the Forum, Saltanovitz was business editor for The Times Media Co.

"The Times was good at getting me to think regionally. Getting to know the people in the business community, I really wanted to take an active part in economic development," he says of his transition from the newsroom. "I wanted to be on the front end of that."

Saltanovitz says the region's proximity to Chicago, along with its industrial background and "stellar workforce," draws wide interest. "We have a lot of people looking at Northwest Indiana," he says.

While a journalism student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Saltanovitz minored in business. While working at The Times, he earned a master of business administration degree at Indiana University Northwest.

He now teaches introductory economics courses at IUN as an adjunct professor. "It keeps my mind sharp and it's a real pleasure teaching something I love to Northwest Indiana students," Saltanovitz says. He hopes to teach in a way that creates a lasting interest in economics among his students.

Saltanovitz's busy schedule also includes service on the board of directors of the Lake Area United Way. He became involved in the organization while at The Times.

"I was eager to become more involved in the community, and this created a good opportunity to give back," he says.

The LAUW is in the process of revising its mission to put more of a focus on identifying and addressing the root causes of major problems impacting the community.

"This new model is more of a laser-like approach," Saltanovitz says. "It's been great to be part of that transition."

The organization's president and CEO, Lisa Daugherty, says Saltanovitz is "one of those board members you wish you could clone. He doesn't just show up at the monthly meetings, he participates and challenges when appropriate, and he dedicates additional time to committees and our special events."

Daugherty also worked with Saltanovitz at The Times, where she says she was impressed by his ability to work with people of different backgrounds inside and outside the organization.

"Matt knows a lot of people and organizations in the community and doesn't hesitate to help us make those connections," Daugherty says.

Saltanovitz is also an organizer of TEDx CountyLineRoad, which sponsors conferences where local speakers share "Ideas Worth Spreading," the theme of the original TED group that's gained attention for its forums focused on short talks by experts in any field.

Celina Weatherwax, communications director for U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, works on the TEDx organizing committee with Saltanovitz.

"I've had the opportunity to work with Matt on a number of regional initiatives, including the creation of TEDx CountyLineRoad," Weatherwax says. "Through each of these experiences, Matt has demonstrated his continuous commitment to the growth and well-being of the people of Northwest Indiana and the communities to which they belong."

Saltanovitz was raised in Munster and lives within a mile of where he grew up. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Karin, and son, Pablo, seeking "new adventures."

An audiophile, in his free time Saltanovitz enjoys building his collection of more than 500 vinyl records. He also grows hot peppers and uses them for his own hot sauce. He enjoys reading, and roots for the White Sox, Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks and Indiana University teams.

Those roots in Northwest Indiana link home and work for Saltanovitz. "I'm so fortunate that when I'm successful in my job," he says, "I am ultimately making my home a better place."


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