Gary to Receive 'Critical' Federal Help

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A Gary city leader says being added to the national Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative is the equivalent of having access to a federal "Bat-Phone." Interim Chief of Staff Richard Leverett says the designation will provide "on the ground support" for multiple redevelopment initiatives. The city will focus on projects including investment in University Park and the re-use of vacant property. Gary is one of seven communities added to the federal effort today by the White House.

January 16, 2014

News Release

Washington -- Today, the Obama Administration announced it is expanding the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative to include Gary, IN; Brownsville, TX; Flint, MI; Macon, GA; Rockford, IL; St. Louis, MO; and Rocky Mount, NC. President Obama established SC2 in 2011 as an innovative and flexible program designed to strengthen local capacity, coordinate federal investments, and spark growth in economically distressed communities. The SC2 Initiative was developed through engagement with mayors, Members of Congress, foundations, nonprofits and other community partners who are committed to addressing the challenges facing local governments as they work to create economic opportunity for all residents.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson expressed her excitement after having to keep the announcement a secret for several days.

"For our city to be designated by the White House to receive this assistance is big news. This represents an important tool in the creation of a better Gary, a city that is designed to provide the best government that tax dollars can buy," said Freeman-Wilson. "This not only represents a partnership with the federal government, but the strengthened engagement of our local educational institutions, local medical providers, local foundations, local non-profits and corporate partners. It is our collective goal to be the hardest working SC2 team in the history of the program."

Federal inter-agency expert teams will be deployed to work alongside city leadership, community organizations, local businesses and philanthropic foundations to support the cities’ visions for economic growth and development. The primary goal is to help these cities more effectively invest existing resources, provide advice and expertise in support of local priorities, better align federal programs and investments, and facilitate new partnerships and peer learning opportunities wherever possible. In addition, AmeriCorps VISTA members will aid this effort as on-the-ground liaisons with local leaders and citizens to help implement the solutions that meet these communities’ needs.

"During these tough fiscal times, it is vitally important that the Administration provides support to those cities in need," stated HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. "The support provided by the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative is helping local leaders maximize every dollar to spur economic growth, create jobs, and build stronger and safer communities."

"The goal is to help position these communities to be more economically competitive, which ultimately will create better opportunities and improve the lives for their residents," said DPC Director, Cecilia Mu?oz. "The expansion of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Initiative to these seven new cities is based on the success and proven track record that the SC2 Teams have had, and we hope to repeat that success."

The SC2 Teams will aim to duplicate the record of success established in the original pilot cities: Chester, PA; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Fresno, CA; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; and Youngstown, OH. SC2 Teams enabled those communities to more effectively use more than $368 million in existing federal funds and investments. They also provided advice and expertise that have helped these communities make significant progress toward their priorities in economic development, housing, transportation, public safety, and public health, among other areas.

Freeman-Wilson went on to acknowledge the various community partners that played a role in the SC2 application process. These organizations, non-profits, companies and educational institutions sent representatives to the final SC2 interview round which was held with Federal representatives at Gary City Hall in November 2013.

"We know that the testimonies from our community partners certainly helped us earn this coveted opportunity," said Freeman-Wilson. "I continue to stress the importance of forging these partnerships. As we have seen today, Gary's economic future is much brighter thanks to these collaborations."



Miller Beach Arts District

Community HealthNet

Purdue University Calumet

Lake County Minority Health Coalition

Methodist Hospital

Broadway Area CDC

Indiana University-Northwest

One Region

Ivy Tech Community College

Gary Community School Corporation

Legacy Foundation

University of Chicago Harris School

Urban League of NWI



Gary Economic Development Corporation

Gary Housing Authority

For more information about the SC2 Teams involvement and goals for the new locations please visit For more information about accomplishments of the initiative in the original pilot locations and policy insights that have surfaced as a result, please review the first SC2 Annual Report.

HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on Facebook at, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's Email List.

Source: City of Gary