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The two most populous counties in Indiana are Marion and Lake. Marion, of course, is to Indianapolis what Cook County is to Chicago, while Lake County is often confused with Chicago. Combined, the two counties comprise over 21% of Indiana’s total population of 6.3 million people, according to the 2008 US Census data. Since Lake County is adjacent to Chicago, it is considered to be a Chicago suburb. In fact, when people from the Calumet Region are asked about our home, we tend to say Northwest Indiana. When people question where that is, the response is typically south of Chicago; even the major local television and radio stations are all out of Chicago. Granted, there are stations in the Gary/Hammond area, but they are not strong enough to have the listenership or viewership of the Chicago stations. The only viable radio network is out of Valparaiso in Porter County. Residents of Northwest Indiana often get news that concerns Illinois and Chicago, but not very much about Indiana unless a tragedy happens.
When it comes to matters of the state, residents of Northwest Indiana need to dig deeper to find out about things that affect them. The state of Indiana, on the whole, should be more concerned about informing the residents about matters of state. After all, Lake County is second in population in the state only to Marion County in Indianapolis. The region does have solid representation in Washington, as well as in Indianapolis, but when it comes to jobs, unemployment statistics, and other matters of state, Northwest Indiana is considered to be a part of the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). If Gary and Hammond could be an MSA, but it is still considered to be in the Gary, Indiana division of Indiana Metros which includes Lake, Porter, Jasper, and Newton Counties. The population for the four county area, as of the 2008 data, is 698,971, a mere 11% of the state’s 6,376,792.
Lake County is a significant portion of Indiana and its representative in Washington, Pete Visclosky, sponsors substantial legislation for the region. Of course, unless residents receive regular notifications from Congressional mailings, we rarely hear about it. Residents of Northwest Indiana need regular news reports, other than print media, to stay informed about what is happening in the Region.