White House Business Council visits Lakeshore

June 10, 2011

In mid-May the Lakeshore Chamber received a call for the White House Business Council requesting the chamber arrange a business roundtable with local business leaders.

We readily agreed to such an opportunity for our business community to be able to interact with a senior White House administrator, and called upon the Northwest Indiana Forum's chairman, Don Babcock, of NIPSCO, to host the event at NIPSCO headquarters.

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama spoke of "the need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build our competitors in order to sustain our leadership and secure prosperity for all Americans." The White House Business Council Roundtables present an opportunity to hear directly from business leaders around the country about their ideas for how we can grow the economy, put Americans back to work, and win the future. At the same time White House administrators can educate local business leaders about administration programs and resources available to support their growth and success.

Through the council roundtables, administration officials plan to visit at least 100 communities across all 50 states by year-end, and the Lakeshore Chamber was thrilled to be called upon to arrange a roundtable in Northwest Indiana.

On May 13, local leaders from oil, steel, energy, banking, health care, and retail, along with the Northwest Indiana Forum, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky's office, The Regional Development Authority and the Metropolitan Planning Council convened at NIPSCO headquarters to meet senior White House administrator Joseph C. Szabo. Szabo is the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration for Obama and he is responsible for overseeing the operations of his 800-plus person organization.Szabo is a fifth-generation railroader, hails from the Midwest, and was the former mayor of Riverdale, Ill. Szabo's passion is of course, rail transportation and he discussed high-speed rail, local intermodal opportunities and the continued importance of moving freight by rail across the U.S. However, Szabo, with more than 20 years experience in local government, was slao a wealth of information on such local topics as: Cline Avenue, health care, banking, and the Gary Airport, to name a few of the many local topics he discussed.

The White House Business Council Roundtable proved to be not only an excellent opportunity to hear ideas from a senior White House administration leader, but the roundtable also was an opportunity for our local business leaders to begin a dialogue with the White House Business Council.

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