After decades of economic decline, several economic development deals are giving city leaders in Gary a boost in confidence about the future. “There are promising signs that people are taking a second look at Gary,” said Mayor Jerome Prince, who says a once-robust economy fueled by the steel industry needs to re-think its future. “One of the things that we need to do is redefine what we’re known for, and we believe that we can do so pursuing technology,” said Prince.
Prince talked about economic developments deals and Gary’s future on this weekend’s edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.
Prince points to California-based consumer electronics manufacturer Akyumen Industries as an example of the city’s new economic development focus. The company has announced its intention to build a headquarters and 5G smartphone manufacturing facility that it says could generate 500-2,000 jobs in Lake County.
Akyumen says the project would be located at the site of the former 27-acre Ivanhoe Gardens, a housing project that closed in 1965.
But the Akyumen deal, which has yet to be finalized, is not the only project grabbing headlines in northwest Indiana.
In August, Alliance Steel marked the opening of a new headquarters and processing facility in Gary, completing a move from Chicago. Alliance says the $20 million invest could mean up to 130 jobs.
And officials say the opening of the $400 million Hard Rock Casino, a project the mayor says, “will bring more and more people to the city,” is on schedule to open in the first quarter.
But despite the positive developments, Prince knows Gary still faces major challenges as it charts its future, including attracting residents to replace the tens of thousands of people who have left the city over the past 50 years.
Prince believes Gary’s proximity and easy access to Chicago, transportation infrastructure and seven miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan can help attract people back.