The Post-Tribune

Finally, it appears someone is taking the initiative to do what should have been done a long time ago -- plan for the future of Northwest Indiana.

Taking charge is the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, which is organizing the Future of Northwest Indiana Summit.

An advisory committee began planning for the Dec. 6 summit last week.

The lack of coordination, planning and implementation among Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties has stymied the progress of Northwest Indiana over the years.

While NIRPC's charge is planning, the agency never has taken the lead to advance controversial projects and issues. That isn't a criticism of NIRPC, whose mission is to follow federal planning guidelines and serve as a pass-through agency for federal money.

NIRPC clearly is the best agency to convene a summit to focus on the future of the area. The NIRPC board is representative of all of Northwest Indiana.

A decade or more ago, NIRPC officials would sit down in the fall with state legislators and come up with a list of 10 priorities for the area in the upcoming General Assembly.

Too often that list was dominated by superficial projects lacking anything that would make a statement about the future of the region.

We expect the summit to discuss expanded commuter rail and the Illiana Expressway. Yet there is much more that should be put on the table, especially given the diversity of the anticipated participants.

This is, of course, a major undertaking. And the success of the summit will be dependent on the participants approaching the event with an open mind, leaving behind the parochial interests of the past.

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