GARY | Gov. Mike Pence on Friday made his second visit to the region since being sworn in this year, meeting with leaders in Gary to talk about education and jobs.
After touring the Gary Career Center and Gary New Tech High School, Pence talked to community leaders gathered at the Genesis Center.
He emphasized the need for vocational education training, lower income tax and for the community to seize the moment and recognize its role in its success.
"The storied history of this community is the precursor of its future," Pence said.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the governor's presentation was consistent with the goals he outlined in private conversations with her. Vocational education and workforce development are key parts of the plan, she said.
Pence supports expanded school choice, allowing parents to choose which public, charter or private school to send their children. He wants to make career and vocational education a priority in Indiana high schools, and he wants college to be more affordable, while recognizing that not every student is college bound, he said.
Pence referred to his late grandfather, who drove a bus in Chicago for 40 years.
"You can hang your hat on an honest living," he said.
Even with a quarter million Hoosiers out of work, there are many unfilled jobs across the state. It is crucial to provide students with the tools to start on the path to success, Pence said.
Harold Puckett, chairman of the Gary Chamber of Commerce and a WorkOne employee, said a lot of jobs are in demand, such as CDL truck drivers and certified nursing assistants.
Puckett said the governor hit home with some of his points about the need for more vocational education. It puts Indiana youth in a better position to find jobs after school, he said.
Pence said government doesn't create jobs, other than government jobs. But, through policy, it can create conditions to support job creation.
"We're going to make job creation job one in this administration," he said.
Pence encouraged the group to tell people about the opportunities in Northwest Indiana and across the state.
"Let's teach the kids we live in a place where dreams come true," he said.
Freeman-Wilson said Pence's visit to Gary made good on a promise that he would be in Gary "soon" after taking office.
"Gov. Pence, just in his first 30 days in office, has shown us that he will be a vital part, an integral part of Team Gary," she said.
Pence said his visits to Lake County demonstrate he will "be the governor of all the people of the state of Indiana."
Pence visited the region in January to make a jobs announcement in Merrillville.