GARY | As Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann toured the cosmetology department at the Gary Area Career Center on Friday, she said if she had more time she'd stay to get a manicure and pedicure.
Ellspermann visited the career center as part of a whirlwind tour through Northwest Indiana, where she visited businesses, including the Lake Business Center in Munster, Strack & Van Til headquarters in Highland, Gary City Hall, Ivy Tech Community College Northwest and Indiana University Northwest in Gary and various development projects around the city of Gary.
Ellspermann heard about several economic development projects in the city, including University Park, which is a neighborhood and campus plan that includes Ivy Tech and IU Northwest. City officials said the project represents one of the best opportunities in the city for economic development and new housing construction.
Ellspermann was joined by Gary schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, IU Northwest Chancellor William Lowe and other officials on a tour of the career center, where they stopped in various classes to talk with students and listen to student presentations.
Ellspermann said she thinks "it's terrific that students will graduate from the career center with a certificate or license and immediately have a career."
At the career center's WGVE Radio, Ellspermann watched students working on a commercial and another working the board. Sophomore Donta Crowder explained to Ellspermann how he was transitioning music and gathering news from the local newspaper for a report.
At Gary New Tech, housed at the career center, sophomore Destiny Collins and a group of students presented their project-based assignment on developing housing at the site of the former Ivanhoe Gardens public housing project.
Completed in 1944, the Ivanhoe Gardens development at 3200 W. 11th Ave. was one of the first housing developments of its kind. Vacant since 2007, it was demolished in 2010.
Ellspermann asked students what they enjoyed most about working on a conceptual project for new housing at the Ivanhoe site.
Collins said the students learned about financing a home, credit cards and mortgages.
In a freshmen algebra class, Ellspermann told students, young girls in particular, that all sorts of careers were open to them in the STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — area.
"I have an engineering degree, and it opened up doors for me," Ellspermann told students. "My daughter is a biomedical engineer. Keep doing what you're doing. We need more engineers, more chemists and people who can create."