GARY | Northwest Indiana’s economic development depends on building partnerships and engaging the area’s residents in creating solutions.
That was the message from panelists Thursday at the Indiana University Northwest Chancellor’s Commission for Community Engagement meeting.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson’s keynote address focused on the important role the university continues to play in the city’s and region’s renewed economic development.
“We are very gratified for a game-changing partnership,” Freeman-Wilson said.
The mayor said “the waste of federal resources by government” and “shortcomings of that government” have created an aura of skepticism and cynicism about what’s possible in Gary.
"Local government has not been of, by and for the people,” she said. “Government is no longer a spectator sport. Citizens have to be responsible to breathe life into the constitution."
A partnership among Gary, IUN and Ivy Tech is helping to redevelop the Broadway/University Park corridor from Interstate 80/94 to Ridge Road, stabilize neighborhoods and create new economic development opportunities, she said.
“IUN is one of the greatest anchors for Gary,” she said.
That theme continued during the panel discussion, which centered on health care, economic development and civic engagement.
A proposed teaching hospital and trauma center on the IUN campus would be a major step in health care and economic development, said Rep. Charlie Brown, D-3rd.
Brown proposed the idea of a trauma center in Northwest Indiana about 12 years ago.
Since that time, the state has mandated that all trauma cases go to a trauma center that is within a 45-minute travel distance, he said.
When people in the region need trauma care, they're taken to Illinois hospitals, he said. The nearest trauma center to the region in Indiana is in South Bend, he said.
With industry, major highways and “penetrating trauma from knives and guns,” Methodist Hospitals would be the ideal partner for a trauma center, Brown said.
“We lose billions of dollars each year that leave Northwest Indiana to Illinois and Indianapolis because we don’t have a trauma center. We need to keep that here in Northwest Indiana,” he said.
In addition, 8,200 patients go to Chicago and Indianapolis for specialized treatment they can’t find here, Brown said.
The trauma center at IUN would help solve much of that by offering specialized treatments and trauma care, he said.