MERRILLVILLE — Northwest Indiana cannot simply wait to experience the transformative effects of the South Shore Line commuter rail expansion projects expected to be completed later this decade.
Rather, Region residents, businesses, and local officials must again come together to prioritize the development of digital connections — in addition to transportation links — over the 90-mile stretch of the Lake Michigan shoreline and beyond running between Chicago and South Bend through Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties.
That was the message delivered under the banner of “Propel” Friday by U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland, and other experts, during a discussion fueled by the spirit of Digital Crossroads’ Tom Dakich and moderated by Horizon Bank CEO Craig Dwight in front of some 500 Northwest Indiana community leaders attending the annual One Region luncheon at Avalon Manor.
One Region’s Greater South Shore initiative aims to turn Northwest Indiana into a hyperconnected, advanced technology and research corridor that makes the Region a leading national center of economic output in the 21st century, just as it was for much of the 20th century, as well as a destination for business and population growth, and educational advancement.
“At the end of the day, the greatest asset that we have is our ability to train the people that we have here for the next generation of technology,” said Gordon Gill, founder of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture of Chicago.
Gill, along with Cordell Carter II, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Socrates Program, both said based on their travels around the world, and particularly to China, there’s no time to waste when it comes to making Northwest Indiana a viable technology hub.
“We’re increasingly finding that the terms of engagement are changing. The rest of the world didn’t stop producing, didn’t stop collaborating, because we decided we wanted to fight more amongst ourselves,” Carter said.
“So it’s critical now to do something exceptional,” he added. “If you don’t do it now, it’s going to cost you 10-times as much later.”
Young said he’s continuing to work in Washington, D.C. to secure approval for his Endless Frontier Act, also known as the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, that he said will position Northwest Indiana, and the state as a whole, to compete for additional federal resources aimed at spreading the benefits of the tech economy beyond a few coastal cities and into the American heartland.
Among other provisions, the …….