Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson

Long-shot endeavors may sound heroic.

But at some point, attainable strategies must be brought to bear to achieve real victories.

It doesn't appear the city of Gary has learned this lesson.

Last year, the city seemed to pull out all the stops in an admittedly long-shot bid to lure online retail giant Amazon's widely coveted second corporate headquarters.

The struggling, impoverished and crumbling Steel City cast its bid along with other highly developed and successful regions and cities throughout the country.

Gary even took out an ad publicly announcing the bid, and speaking directly to Amazon, in the New York Times.

Despite its logistically attractive location to the lakefront and major transportation arteries, it came as no surprise Gary wasn't among the finalists announced for the Amazon headquarters bid.

However, it appears, with little fanfare, Gary missed out on a chance to lure what would seem to be a far more practical Amazon facility to enhance the city's struggling portfolio of viable business.

Amazon recently announced it is looking to build a four-story fulfillment center warehouse in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, off Interstate 94 near Milwaukee.

This announcement comes just a few years after opening a $250 million warehouse that employs 1,500 people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is just north of the Illinois border.

But where was Gary in the bids for these warehouses, which seem to fit the city's industrial landscape far better than a posh corporate headquarters?

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When contacted by The Times last week, Gary was mum regarding whether it made a play for the warehouse.

The city certainly wasn't silent, however, when it made its play for the much bigger headquarters long shot.

Gary residents and the citizens of a greater Region, who pay a price every day for the economic and social drags of the Steel City, deserve better answers than a "no comment."

Gary should be making good-faith efforts to lure such warehouse projects, and it shouldn't be making a secret out of any public business or economic development plans.

Some might argue Hammond also made an unsuccessful, long-shot bid for the Amazon headquarters.

But Hammond's sensible bid came to something potentially big. Ultimately, it lured a company looking to build a massive data center near the lake shore.

Perhaps more important than Hammond’s Amazon bid, which garnered the data center planners’ attention, was that city’s readiness and planning to reel in a planned 12-acre, $40 million data center that would house massive servers, tie into nearby fiber optic networks, create hundreds of related jobs and put Northwest Indiana on the tech industry map.

Gary’s Amazon headquarters bid, as far as anyone can tell, garnered nothing.

Following the unsuccessful bid, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said, "We have already seen the benefits of assembling and submitting an application. It has allowed us to make the case for Gary as a location for a number of businesses, and it has also helped others understand the regional dividend in supporting economic development in Gary."

But for that to actually mean something, the mayor's administration must be forward-thinking, deliberate and realistic if it ever hopes to grow beyond its economically eviscerated status quo.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.