The second-in-command at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development visited Gary, Ind., Wednesday to kick off an effort to renew the long-struggling industrial city.
Ron Sims, Deputy Secretary at HUD, said Gary has all the ingredients to turn its fortunes around but needs a plan to use those ingredients--and stick to it.
“You have a passenger rail system here. You have a lakefront here. You have a university here,” Sims said. “But you have to know where you’re going. You just can’t move from one good idea to another idea. You have to have discipline and execute it.”
Sims was among several federal, state and local officials who gathered at the Genesis Center in downtown Gary for the launch of GRIP, short for Gary & Region Investment Project. The project is a one-of-a-kind urban planning effort coordinated by the Times of Northwest Indiana and the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago.
“This is an initiative about Gary as the center. We can’t succeed unless Gary succeeds. But Gary can’t succeed on its own. So this interdependency is an approach that we have found works in every part of metropolitan Chicago,” said MarySue Barrett, president of the MPC.
Barrett said the MPC has led programs in and around Northwest Indiana, but never on the scale of GRIP. The goal is to tap into resources in Gary and its neighboring communities to bring change.
“We get that our workforce is shared. Our land, water and air is all shared. And when they are all not functioning, we all pay a price,” Barrett said. “If Northwest Indiana is not successful, Chicagoland as a whole cannot be successful. It’s that simple.”
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay said something like GRIP has been needed for a long time.
“We’ve been talking about people coming together, not only in Lake County, but the region, coming together and making this region one of the greatest in the nation,” Clay said.