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One REgion's Opportunities Council

One Region’s Opportunities Council (also known as NIROC) is a 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 Marie Foster-Bruns at

2022 Council Liaison:  Michael Schneider, Market President at First Financial Bank

1st Source Bank
Matt Vessely, Regional President

ATG Real Estate
Eric Gastevich, Principal

Big Shoulders Fund
Dan Kozlowski, Regional Director

First Merchants Bank
Dale Clapp, Regional President

Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors (GNIAR)
Pete Novak, Chief Executive Officer

Robert Johnson, President & 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

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

Horizon Bank
Craig Dwight, Chairman & CEO

Lakeshore Bone and Joint
Dale Ingram, CEO

Lewis & Kappes
Monica Conrad, Partner

McColly Real Estate
Ron McColly, President

Wintrust Bank
Gil Rynberk, Market President



Mortar Net Solutions
Gary Johnson, President

Violet Sistovaris, Executive VP and Chief Experience Officer, NiSource

Northwest Health
Ashley Dickinson, President & CEO

Digital Crossroad
Thomas Dakich, Managing Member

Indiana University Northwest
Ken Iwama, Chancellor

Opportunity Enterprises
Neil Samahon, CEO

Peoples Bank
Benjamin Bochnowski, President & CEO

Purdue University Northwest
Tom Keon, Chancellor

Jeff Lewis, Managing Partner

Strack and Van Til
Jeff Strack, President & CEO

The NWI Times
Chris White, Publisher

United Healthcare
Mike Telesky, Vice President, Sales

Valparaiso University
Jose D. Padilla, President

Weiss Entities
Don Weiss, President

Wightman Architecture
Carl Baxmeyer, Partner and Senior Planner


  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 Greater South Shore:

    • Being more connected from Chicago to South Bend through data and rail will build a strong research corridor and better utilization of our regional assets to attract business, increase population and diversity our economy.  
Why Advocate for the Greater South Shore?

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. 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

One Region PARKnership project 

One Region working to make NWI a national tech hub

One Region Annual Luncheon

One Region, One Robust Future:

Local Banks renew pledge to invest in transit-oriented development:

Valparaiso University president named to One Region board:

New President & CEO:

One Region Rising:

Our Water is Bluer:

Pittsburgh and Resilience:

Housing Diversity Key to Region’s Growth:

Talent Attraction Incentives:

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: