IBJ Media's 2023 list of Indiana's 250 most influential and impactful business and community leaders includes several honorees from Northwest and North Central Indiana.
The list started last year and was updated to include newcomers who replaced others on the list. Honorees include C-level executives, nonprofit leaders, civic leaders, lawyers, bankers, board chairs, artists, promoters, judges, philanthropists and entrepreneurs. It does not include elected officials.
“There has been significant turnover with dozens of new honorees knocking others off the list,” a press release said.
The list includes several leaders from the Region, including:
- Northwest Indiana Forum President and CEO Heather Ennis
- Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority Chairman Pete Visclosky
- Quantum Corridor CEO Thomas Dakich
- South Bend Regional Chamber President and CEO Jeff Rea
- Horizon Bancorp Inc. and Horizon Bank Chairman Craig Dwight
- Cimcor Inc. President and CEO Robert Johnson III
- HQ Investments founder Larry Garatoni
- Centier Bank Chairman and CEO Mike Schrage
- RDA President and CEO Sherri Ziller
- South Shore Line President and General Manager Michael Noland
“Indiana is rich in opportunity,” Ennis said in a press release. “In the past, many have viewed us as a drive-through or flyover state. I think if they really looked at Indiana, they would find so much of what they are looking for: great tax climate, friendly people, beautiful cities and towns, generous people with amazing spirit, a place to call home and belong.”
Her work on Northwest Indiana’s IGNITE the Region plan helped obtain a $50 million state READI grant, which is being used to increase the Region’s population, per capita income and economic development.
Visclosky is a lifelong resident of Northwest Indiana. He grew up in Gary and still lives there. He also attended Indiana University Northwest and served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed Visclosky chairman of the airport in 2018. His term ends Jan. 31, 2016.
Dakich, also a Gary native, has been a practicing attorney for four decades. His company is planning a partnership with tech companies to bring high-speed internet to communities in Indiana, among others.
“We were raised to believe in serving others, and I’ve built my career on that commitment to service,” Dakich said in a press release. “I’m thankful to IBJ Media for the acknowledgement, but I’m even more grateful to enjoy so many opportunities to make a difference in my hometown and my home state.”
Rea is a former mayor of Mishawaka and helped develop the North Central Indiana Regional Development Authority. The chamber under his leadership helped land the $3.5 billion GM Samsung SDI EV battery project west of South Bend near New Carlisle. He is a founding member of the South Bend Empowerment Zone, an effort to improve schools in South Bend.
The chamber has 1,300 member businesses that employ more than 85,000 people.
“I am honored to be included once again on this prestigious list,” Rea said in a press release. “I respect so many of the honorees, many of them I call friends and partners for whom I’ve had the opportunity to work with.”
Dwight earned a Sagamore of the Wabash Award this year after retiring as CEO of the bank. He continues to serve as chairman of the boards of both the bank and Horizon Bancorp, its parent company. He has led Horizon Bank since 1998.
“Throughout my years at Horizon Bank, it has been my privilege to live, work and contribute to my local communities,” Dwight said in a press release. “I’d also like to congratulate the team of talented advisers at Horizon Bank. It’s their dedication, engagement and true passion for what they do that defines us as a community bank and helps us support the communities we serve.”
The Indiana 250 list was determined by executives, editors and newsroom staffs at IBJ Media’s three news brands: Indianapolis Business Journal, Inside INdiana Business and Indiana Lawyer.
“Our 2023 Indiana 250 list is chock full of private- and public-sector leaders who are making big impacts in their communities, in our state and even in our nation,” said IBJ Media CEO Nate Feltman in a press release. “We chose these leaders because they are doing inspiring work, and we want to share their stories so others can be inspired, too.”
About two-thirds of those on this year's list also were on the inaugural list.
“We are excited to have so many new names on the list this year and to have representation from all types of industries and areas of the state,” Indiana 250 Editor Lesley Weidenbener said. “There are many ways to have an impact on your community and your state, and our goal is to represent leadership in all of those ways.”
Find the complete list of winners here.