The Northwest Indiana Forum held their 2015 Appreciation Reception in honor of the Northwest Indiana Delegation on Wednesday at the Sand Creek Country Club. The Forum also paid special tribute to State Representative Earl Harris, and State Senator Sue Landske, who both recently passed away.
The Forum is the voice of the region's business community that promotes quality jobs and economic development while seeking to increase the broad-based wealth in Northwest Indiana. They work to create jobs and to foster a positive business climate through investment.
“We’re so lucky to be able to work with the delegation we have,” said Heather Ennis, President and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum. “With the rights we have been granted it’s also our responsibility to vote and to engage in our democracy. Often times we forget to be part of the process in this great country. This year I had the opportunity to see the process firsthand in Indianapolis. It’s so amazing to see our government work. We will continue to be the voice of businesses in Northwest Indiana and to advocate for the things that can move the region forward in the future.”
There to present the highlights from the Legislative session was Dewey Pearman from the Construction Advancement Foundation. CAF is a regional construction industry trade association with over 500 affiliated contractor companies. They provide the tools necessary for companies to manage the many controllable and uncontrollable forces that have an impact on business in the region.
“A lot of work was done by the delegation both in committee and on the floor, as well as behind the scenes,” Pearman said. “We saw very close working relationships in the delegates and this was a regional driver of large-scale economic development. The Regional Development Authority has been renewed and funding on a local level will continue to flow to economic develop projects. Very importantly the legislature passed a $6 million, 30 year commitment toward the extension of the South Shore rail line. Many people around the region on both the public and private side worked very hard to get that accomplished. We just want to thank the delegates for their hard work. It’s often under appreciated but we look forward to working with them in the coming years to continue to develop Northwest Indiana.”
Over the last several months the Region lost State Representative Earl Harris and State Senator Sue Landske. There to pay tribute to these public servants was Chet Dobis, former Indiana State Representative who spent 42 years in the Indiana House of Representatives. Rep. Harris spent 33 years in the Indiana House and Sen. Landske spent 30 years in the State Senate.
“The difference in the two legislators is absolutely noticeable,” said Rep. Dobis. “Earl was a progressive Democrat from East Chicago. He represented an industrial-based community and racial minorities. Sue was a Republican representing a rural community, small towns and agriculture. As I look back and did some research I came to find that these two were so similar in their methodology, their personality and their work ethic. They both learned and worked across the aisle. They worked in a quiet, dignified manner; one on one. These two individuals were not only liked but well respected. They were mentors and stalwarts at getting things done. Democrat and Republican are just names, the issues are what mattered to them. They both made a difference and left their fingerprints on the Region.”
With over 130 member organizations the Northwest Indiana Forum will continue their work develop the Region’s economy and to make Northwest Indiana the best that it can be.