Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson delivered her second State of the City Address to a capacity crowd at the Genesis Convention Center.
Opening with a stanza from the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Freeman-Wilson went on to list the many accomplishments of “Team Gary” in 2012 and the countless partnerships forged with corporations and organizations. Among a laundry list of topics discussed crime reduction, education, city clean-up efforts, economic development and job creation topped the list.
“We must ensure that the success in bringing businesses to Gary will result in jobs for Gary citizens,” said Freeman-Wilson. “You will see us work with contractors to encourage the use of union labor and local residents as we continue to focus on our ten development areas to enhance existing businesses and create new businesses.”
The makeup of the crowd was once again diverse with representation from Gary high schools, senior citizen groups as well as the business and faith communities. Freeman-Wilson closed her address by challenging the attendees and Gary residents to reach out to the President and request that Gary be designated as a “Promise Zone.”
Promise Zone is an initiative to select 20 communities nationwide as laboratories for better coordinated federal, local, nonprofit and private-sector investments to revitalize long-distressed areas. According to the Obama Administration, communities would be selected over the next several years, from urban and rural applicants that demonstrate a persistent need like high joblessness and crime rates, low rates of high school graduation and college attendance and health concerns among residents. For these Promise Zones, President Obama is seeking tax breaks for those who make capital investments in the zones and for employers who hire unemployed residents.
“Write president Obama and encourage, no implore, him to include Gary, Indiana as one of those promise communities because we know that out potential far outweigh our problems; we know that our strengths are greater than our weaknesses and we know that we are destined to return to our rightful place as the beacon of Northwest Indiana,” said Freeman-Wilson.