Gary Mayor Jerome Prince delivered his final State of the City address, expressing a mix of emotions as he prepares to leave office in a few months. Despite facing adverse circumstances during his tenure, Prince expressed pride in his accomplishments and a tinge of sadness for unfinished work that he will pass on to his successor.
Prince, who was elected in 2019 after winning the Democratic primary, faced the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic early in his term. He implemented public health policies and restrictions to protect the lives of residents, despite their unpopularity.
The pandemic also brought financial relief to Gary, as the city received over $80 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Prince utilized these funds for various programs and community investments, including a mobile mental health unit, a new YMCA and wellness facility, grants for local businesses affected by the pandemic, a down payment assistance program, and support for a new single-family subdivision.
The Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana also contributed to the city’s revenue growth, with casino revenues doubling since its opening in 2021. However, Prince acknowledged that Gary still faces significant economic challenges and emphasized the need for long-term solutions through growth in the city’s tax base.
Prince highlighted promising developments for Gary’s future, such as the upcoming $8 million “Fiber Smart House” project. The project will transform the city’s iconic Union Station into a network operations center and technology job training facility, funded through a combination of public and private sources. Prince believes this project will attract further investment to Gary.
Additionally, Prince mentioned the potential return of passenger flights to the Gary/Chicago Airport next year, pending an agreement with an airline.
In concluding his address, Prince expressed gratitude for the constituents who elected him and a sense of satisfaction in his work. He stated that every decision and action during his time in office was driven by a deep-rooted commitment to the success of Gary.