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Northwest Indiana is evolving, and Michigan City is playing our part to drive that evolution. The advancements that are taking place in Michigan City benefit our region, and any improvement to our region mutually benefits Michigan City. We are all working toward a better future, we are bound together along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, and in the future Northwest Indiana will become even more connected.

Transportation connections are crucial to Northwest Indiana's evolution. The South Shore double-track project will bring us all closer, and it will reduce the commuting time between Michigan City and Chicago to about one hour. A more reasonable commute time will increase employment opportunities for Michigan City residents, plus our lower cost of living will lure Chicago residents to move to Michigan City.

Michigan City's airport is also expanding. Our runway will be increased to 5,000 feet over U.S. 20 to accommodate private jets.

These are some of the improvements that will provide more opportunities for Michigan City and Region residents, but we need to prepare ourselves to recognize and take advantage of the opportunities that are coming.

Education is the key to giving us the edge. Computer literacy is essential to our future and we are preparing ourselves, and our next generation for that future.

The computer science curriculum at Purdue Northwest provides future problem solvers with advanced concepts that have applications in business, manufacturing, medicine and science. We are also introducing computer-coding skills in Michigan City Area Schools. According to MCAS Technology Director Kevin McGuire, "We know the demand for coders is growing every day and we want to have that awareness in Michigan City schools, to show kids what coding is.”

Likewise, Michigan City Area Schools are using Chromebook computer textbooks; not only does this save resources, but they also prepare our students for a paperless digital future.

To help our students into college, Michigan City is offering the Promise Scholarship, which offers up to $5,000 per year, renewable for four years, to eligible Michigan City High School seniors. Michigan City is preparing our workforce for the future.

Health care is an important part of Michigan City's evolution. To better serve the Northwest Indiana Region, Franciscan St. Anthony Hospital is moving to a new location next to I-94. This new location will reduce time for Region residents to access the medical services that they need. The new modern building will have the latest technology and equipment, and will better suit current health care practices. The new hospital will open this fall.

In our Uptown Art District, there is also an evolution. We have rehabbed the old Warren Building in partnership with Artspace, and there is now full occupancy in the new artist colony. We also broke ground on the future Elston Legacy apartments. Both of these projects will provide living space for commuters using the nearby South Shore railroad station, and contribute to a thriving and vibrant downtown.

What is good for the Northwest Indiana Region is good for Michigan City. The southern shore of Lake Michigan is a premier destination for recreation, business, industry and is a perfect place to raise a family.

We have unique and diverse ecosystems that co-exist with urban and industrial development: beaches, lofty dunes, black oak savannas, steel mills, busy ports, great restaurants and breathtaking sunsets over Lake Michigan. For summer recreation, bike and kayak trails connect three states around our coast. In the winter, perfect lake-effect snow provides the best cross-country skiing.

Michigan City is an awesome place to live, to do business, or just to visit.

Ron Meer is mayor of Michigan City. The opinions are the writer's.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.