Great ideas spark economic growth.
Innovators are people who bring together ideas in new and different ways. Our region is fortunate to have the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana, which, for 12 years, has helped our community recognize innovation by honoring the creativity, perseverance and dedication of local people and organizations. These honorees inspire us as role models in finding innovative solutions in our work, community and personal lives.
On our cover, CEO Rich Urschel represents the employees of Urschel Laboratories–winners of the Accelerating Greatness Team Award. The Chanute Prize for Team Innovation went to The Grand Calumet Restoration Project for its innovative, decade-long, multi-organizational collaboration to clean up the Grand Calumet River.
In addition to the team prizes, the Society named six individual fellows; Whiting Mayor Joseph Stahura, Calumet College of St. Joseph Professor Sandra Chimon-Peszek Rogers, Elizabeth Lynn, founder of the Center for Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University, Michigan City Area Schools Superintendent Barbara Eason-Watkins, Porter County Career and Technology Education Principal Jon Groth and Purdue Northwest Chancellor Thomas Keon.
Innovation, among other factors, contributes to business growth and growth is one of the many criteria considered by judges in awarding the 2016 Companies to Watch. We talk with four winners from our region whose companies provide services that: bring cell phones back to life; service and sell overhead cranes; promote healing and fight infection among implant patients; and keep food and medicine from spoiling in commercial refrigerators.
Our innovation theme continues as we talk with local healthcare professionals about new robotic surgery techniques that provide patients with faster recovery time with less pain and fewer complications. The list of surgeries performed with robotic assistance is growing, eliminating the need for patients to travel outside of the region to receive these benefits.
In this issue, we survey local experts to bring you regional updates on economic development, commercial real estate and clean energy jobs. We profile Dust Furniture, a local business that creates unique, custom built and designed works of art. We talk with Jeff Strack, the new CEO of Strack & Van Til Food Stores, about the company's past, present and future in Northwest Indiana. Local bankers recommend building a working relationship, including periodic check-ins with your banker long before you need financing. We learn some legal tips for safely using social media. We prepare for the holiday season with our Holiday Gift Guide. We share local opportunities for arts and entertainment. We explore the meteoric rise of Coach Ryan Shelton and the IU Northwest women's basketball team.
This issue is filled with inspiring stories about local individuals and organizations that impact our economy and communities. I hope you enjoy reading about the creativity, determination and commitment of these innovators and look for ways you can support and create innovation in your life.
–Troy Linker, Publisher