Artist Mike Barlow, left, with Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, center

Come home and help us make a better Gary

Contributed By:The 411 News

Mayor asks former residents for their input and perspectives

Native sons and daughters who grew up in Gary, then went elsewhere to live their lives returned Friday to participate in The Homecoming: A Gary Expats Roundtable. They had responded to the invitation by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson to participate in discussions that could lead to “concrete steps for expatriates to offer their assistance to the city through advice, ideas, technical assistance, one-off events or sustained projects.”

The takeaway from the forum could be heard as they learned about the difficulties and challenges facing their hometown, and offered their perspectives.

“We are not trying to be like Chicago, our town is better than Chicago,” was heard in the breakout session on communication, media and public image.

Karla Henderson, Gary’s Commerce Dept. director remembered a comment heard at City Hall. “In 10 years you’re going to be like Pittsburgh.” Her response, “We don’t want to be like Pittsburgh. Our goal is to be a better Gary.”

Pittsburgh, U.S. Steel’s headquarters and one of its steel manufacturing sites also suffered from the downtown in steel like Gary. Now, it has become a poster child for how a rustbelt city can rebound.

Breakout sessions were hosted by city of Gary department heads on public safety, infrastructure, economic development, education, youth, technology, and health.

One of the expats, Ernest Battle, who now lives in San Antonio, said he was already thinking of an idea to get others involved. “There are so many of us across the country who can help Gary,” he said.

Closing out the roundtable, Mayor Freeman-Wilson issued an invitation for next year and announced, “We’ll be holding Homecomings in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.”

Story Posted:09/23/2018

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