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Northwest Indiana Regional Opportunities Council

Northwest Indiana Regional Opportunities Council (NIROC) is a newly formed 501c6 managed by One Region’s staff and Board of Directors with a mission to stimulate an environment attracting people and investments.

Interested in Joining?

Contact Leah Konrady

Vision of the NIROC:

  • The Council will introduce thought leaders, bring ideas forward and convene partners to work toward a common vision and build our future together.
  • The Council will strengthen public and private investments in Northwest Indiana.
  • Northwest Indiana will become a community of choice for new and current residents.

Objectives of NIROC:

  • Develop and deliver an annual action agenda
  • Take action based on annual agenda (convert ideas into action)
  • Support these objectives through:
    • Advocacy
    • Financial Support
    • In-Kind Support
    • Convening Partners or Stakeholders

Principles of NIROC:

  • Serve as a cohesive private sector voice focused on investment in our quality of place
  • Serve as a convener to build strong relationships and partnerships among the many NWI stakeholder groups and organizations
  • Embrace change through risk-taking
  • Act with honesty and integrity
  • Honor our region’s uniqueness and authenticity
  • Serve as an Ambassador promoting our region

2019 Members

1st Source Bank
Matt Vessely, Regional President

Bill Steers, General Manager Communications & Corporate Responsibility
Kelly Nissan, Manager Communications & Corporate Responsibility

Burke Costanza Carberry
Dana Rifai, Partner

Centier Bank
Mike Schrage, President & CEO
Chris Campbell, Senior Vice President

Robert Johnson, President & CEO

Dekker Vacuum Technologies
Rick Dekker, CEO

Diocese of Gary
Dr. Joseph Majchrowicz, Superintendent of Schools

First Financial Bank
Mike Schneider, Market President

Franciscan Alliance
Patrick Maloney, President & CEO
Dean Mazzoni, President & CEO Michigan City

Gary Jet Center
Lynn Eplawy, President

Hasse Construction
Bill Hasse, President & CEO
Kim Hasse O’Halloran, Director Business Development

Hightower Great Lakes
Tim Scannell, Managing Director and Partner

Horizon Bank
Craig Dwight, Chairman & CEO

Lakeshore Bone and Joint
Dr. Tom Kay

Lewis & Kappes
Monica Conrad, Partner

Meyers Glaros
Matt Glaros, CEO

Violet Sistovaris, Executive VP and Chief Experience Officer, NiSource

Peoples Bank
Benjamin Bochnowski, President & CEO

Porter/LaPorte-Starke Hospitals
Sean Dardeau, President & CEO Porter
Ashley Dickinson, President & CEO LaPorte-Starke

Purdue University Northwest
Tom Keon, Chancellor

Strack and Van Til
Jeff Strack, President & CEO

The NWI Times
Chris White, Publisher

Valparaiso University
Colette Irwin-Knott, Interim President

Weiss Entities
Don Weiss, President


  1. Advocate for the South Shore Rail Line’s Projects:

    • Double Tracking (Building a Double Track from Michigan City to Gary allowing for express trains to run from Michigan City to Chicago in just over an hour) and
    • West Lake Extension (building a new rail line from Hammond to Munster/Dyer with a gateway station in Hammond connecting the new and existing rail lines)
Why Advocate for the South Shore Train?

Improved and expanded commuter rail is critical for the growth of our region. The Illinois suburbs of Chicago have grown by 226% over the last 40 years and in that same time frame NWI grew by 4%. Illinois has over 490 miles of commuter rail connecting to the City of Chicago whereas in Indiana we have over 90 miles terminating in South Bend. The South Shore Train extension is expected to grow population, increase property values, and increase household income by connecting our region to wages in Chicago (40% higher).

Increased accessibility encourages migration from Chicago and other regions to Northwest Indiana. Transit access provides a key tool for communities in attracting people.

  1. Encourage mixed-use development for dense housing and commercial use, located near transportation hubs.
Why mixed-use development near transit hubs?

Investing in mixed-use development supports the revitalization of our cities and downtowns by creating walkability throughout Northwest Indiana. Walkable amenities and downtowns are critical to the success of any region. People of all ages look for in a place to live, which includes walkability connecting people to restaurants, shops, and transit elsewhere. Downtowns are often one of the top attractors as it portrays the image of a city or region both internally and externally and influences the perception of a place.

NIROC seeks to support catalytic projects that:

  • Serve as an anchor for downtown and transportation hub
  • Create housing (all housing: affordable, workforce-moderate income housing, and market rate housing)
  • Attract people and retain young talent in NWI
  • Spur economic development (retail, restaurants, breweries, etc.)
  • Create vibrancy
  • Provide access to greater job opportunities
  • Provide lower cost mobility through location near mass transit

NIROC supports investments in strategic Areas:

  • Downtown areas tied to transit and trails
  • Walkable features and amenities
  • Cities with a vision for the downtown
  • Access to public incentives (Opportunity Zones, Historic Tax Credits, New Market Tax Credits, etc.)
  • Willingness of public sector to work with private sector
  • Bones of strong, livable, walkable, vibrant downtown
  • Land and buildings available and ready for development

Walkability is becoming more and more important. In the 1990’s Portland, OR made a series of decisions to make the city more walkable. Subsequently, between the last two censuses, Portland, OR experienced a 50% increase in college-educated millennials, which is 5 times the national average.

$25 Million Dollar Loan Program

For more information, please go to:

$25 Million Dollar Loan Program

  1. Advocate for the completion of the Marquette Greenway (a trail from Chicago to New Buffalo, MI) and identify an action plan for areas of strategic investment along the Greenway.
Why invest in Trails?

Rivers, trails, and greenway corridors with open spaces connecting recreational, cultural and natural areas create jobs, enhances property values, expands local businesses, attracts new or relocating businesses, increases local tax revenues, decreases local government expenditures, and promotes local community.

About 200,000 people live within 1.5 miles of the Marquette Greenway. Trails demonstrate strong financial returns with residential desirability and increased property values, and trails fall as top-ranked amenity for relocation purposes. When people make decisions to move they often factor in a recreational factor – as in: what is there to do after work? Having an active trail linking across the region will improve our internal perception of our region.

News & Articles

Our Water is Bluer:

Pittsburgh and Resilience:

Housing Diversity Key to Region’s Growth:

Professional to Watch, Leah Konrady:

Talent Attraction Incentives:

20 under 40 Leah Konrady:

Welcoming Talent:

TOD take Patience, Resolve and Money:

One Region Looks to Reverse Brain Drain:

Case Made for South Shore Rail Line:

Commuter Rail Expansion and TOD link to Brighter Future:

Oklahoma City Mayor Shares Lessons with NWI:

The Affordable Shore: Why Indiana Living Appeal to Chicago Commuters: