NWISOI innovators help people, the environment and the NWI community

Many of our 2016 innovators have made a difference in the lives of people while also helping the environment. Fellow Julie Rizzo is one example.


Northwest Indiana’s Arc, a special needs facility, is the home of a large storage space that is filled with assorted pieces of granite. Area artisans have made it possible for those granite remnants to be recycled as useful, sustainable resources. Known as the “Green Abilities Team,” workers are trained to make pavers, fire pits, jewelry, cheeseboards, and ornaments from the recycled granite.


This innovative project has been shown on various home and garden television networks. Society of Innovators Fellow Julie Rizzo, Founder and President of Recycled Granite, stated that Arc is the first special needs facility in the world to implement this hands-on, zero-waste granite recycling training program while providing an exclusive store to exhibit, sell, and manufacture products. Rizzo started her business upon realizing that millions of pounds of granite were being discarded due to only minor imperfections or because of the size of the slab of granite. Besides creating marketable items from the remaining pieces of granite, her initiative also frees up space in landfills.


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