Categories: Community




Under the Chanute Glider at the La Porte County Historical
Society Museum, Don Babcock, NIPSCO, stands next to Dr.
Peter Kesling, an innovator with more than 50 patents, and
Maggi Spartz, Unity Foundation.  Babcock participated in a
7-county expedition to encourage nominations to
The Society of Innovators, Ivy Tech Community College.

By Don Babcock

Board Governor

The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana


In recent weeks, I have had the privilege of extending a hearty “Good Morning Northwest Indiana” in each of the 7 counties of Jasper, Lake, La Porte, Porter, Newton, Pulaski and Starke Counties.

On the heels of our 10th  Anniversary last year, our small team of staff and committed

board members decided to launch our 11th year by making the “call” around the region..

We called this “Expedition Innovation 2015 – A Call for Nominations.” I was joined by O’Merrial Butchee, Director, Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center, and Lynnette Fulton – Driver, who renders great assistance to our team.

A key leader of our Expedition was John Davies, our very own “Northwest Indiana John”. He even carried a whip, wore a weathered hat, and reminded us that our expedition was an adventure in the spirit of the great Indiana Jones!

Our mission was to generate nominations of innovators operating under the radar who are making creative contributions ….. doing things faster, better and more efficiently.

In each county, we emphasized that innovation is the foundation of our economy. Moreover, in the last decade the Society of Innovators has discovered nearly 1000 innovators across our 7 counties. A surprising number to many, but in this global economy still not enough to drive our region to what it could be.

Our expedition was somewhat like a magnet rolling through the region and attracting interest like metal filings.  We came to each county in collaboration with the local economic development teams and were welcomed by elected officials like Mayor Joseph Stahura in Lake County, Mayor Jon Costas in Porter County, and Commissioner Mike Bohacek in LaPorte County.

Each time, we and community members learned more about the phenomenal and unique innovations in their very own counties. I was inspired over and over again by the great people in our region.  It made me even more optimistic of our future and here’s why.

First, there was tremendous pride everywhere we went.

Second, there was a growing appreciation of the importance of innovation and its role in making us more globally competitive.

Third, there was a growing recognition of the importance of regionalism and the value of telling more powerful stories of success and sometimes failure across the region..

In closing, I want to extend my thanks to everyone who assisted and supported the expedition …….let’s all do our part to help Northwest Indiana John in his quest!




Don Babcock is Director, Economic Development, NIPSCO. He is a resident of Michigan City, IN, and a Board Governor of The Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana.




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