Salt & Light: A Guide to Loving Northwest Indiana

Page 90



The acceleration of the global economy over the past few decades has brought numerous growth opportunities to Northwest Indiana businesses, but it has also brought many new challenges from competition with emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, India, and China. This competition has forced companies into consolidation and downsizing initia[P]LZ ^OPJO OH]L \S[PTH[LS` YLZ\S[LK PU H ¸Z\Y]P]HS VM [OL Ă„[[LZ[š TLU[HSP[` This can be seen most notably in Northwest Indiana through the decline of the once-mighty steel industry upon which our social foundations were built. At their peak, the mills employed as many as twenty thousand workers in each facility, providing jobs spanning the spectrum from the technologically advanced to unskilled labor. In addition, it was commonly held that for each job in the mills, there were at least six support jobs created in the community, ranging from mill suppliers to grocery-store clerks and other service-industry workers. The steel mills now employ only around six thousand workers in each facility and make higher-quality products. If this region is to survive and prosper in this global economy, many interrelated aspects of life must undergo a change. We have many tax advantages and incentives in place to attract new businesses and enterprises, but for now no one is beating down the door. It is evident that business development is not just a simple dollars-and-cents issue. We live immediately adjacent to Chicago, a recognized global city, yet Northeast Indiana seems to bring in more new business than us. We need to assess the economic effect of the perceived quality-of-life issues that give Northwest Indiana such a poor image. Then we must plan to take action. U.S. Steel, Gary Works 6UL WYVISLT PZ YLZPKLU[Z OLYL KV UV[ [V\[ [OL ^VUKLYM\S ILULĂ„[Z VM SP]PUN PU our area to the rest of the world. There seems to be a lingering fatalistic shame in being from “Da Region.â€? We must no longer resist celebrating the advantages that Northwest Indiana offers the greater metropolitan area, for indeed we do have much to offer. 6UL JHU SP]L PU H ]PY[\HSS` Y\YHS HYLH `L[ IL PU KV^U[V^U *OPJHNV PU \UKLY an hour. We have fantastic green spaces and, at the Dunes, a national park and Z[H[L WHYR 6\Y UH[\YHS [YLHZ\YLZ JVL_PZ[PUN ^P[O V\Y PUK\Z[YPLZ HYL H YLTHYRable story in itself. There are many varying arts-and-culture offerings—too numerous to list. We have six local colleges and universities offering complete packages of higher-education degree programs. The quality of our air and water has continually improved over the years. Have you ever attended the Pierogi Festival in Whiting, the Popcorn Festival in Valparaiso, the Gary Air Show, or 7OV[V I` 1VL` 4H`Ă„LSK any of the other notable community events offered across the region? &% } 1Th^]S cWT st 4SXcX^]