GARY, Ind.–The deal to keep all 3,900 jobs at the U.S. Steel plant in Gary has still not been finalized. Negotiations on just how much the city will offer in tax credits, are still going on, and the company’s executives have commented that jobs still might be lost in a city that was founded by the company.
“That hasn’t been finalized. But, the factv that we will see $750 million of investment from U.S. Steel, will make a huge difference,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. She said the deal will bring tax dollars into the city, stabilize the industry and established the Gary plant at U.S. Steel’s flagship.
The Trump administration claimed credit last year for a revitalization of the steel industry, with 25 percent tariffs on steel imports from Canada and Mexico.
As the steel industry lobbies Congress, leaders are talking about the possibility of steel import caps replacing the tariffs, which would force American companies to buy a certain amount of steel from American companies like U.S. Steel.
Audio titled KAREN FREEMAN WILSON INTERVIEW CLEANUP STEEL FOLO by 93WIBC
In Gary, 25,000 people were once employed at the Gary Works plant. That number has dwindled over the years to under 4,000, which led to people leaving town quickly after layoffs, and abandoning homes.
Gary is now dealing with the cleanup of those abandoned properties. Since much of the city’s tax base is gone, they are being forced to come up with creative ways to pay for the demolitions and clean-up.
“We brought of the Hardest Hit Fund to Indiana, as a result of our work with students at the University of Chicago,” said Freeman-Wilson. “Studying Michigan, Ohio, New York, where they were using Hardest Hit dollars from the Dept. of Treasury to demolish vacant and abandoned buildings.”
The Hardest Hit Fund is normally used to help people avoid foreclosure. In Gary’s case, it’s being used to tear down abandoned homes.
“We’ve gotten over 1,200 down. We have probably over 4,000 to go,” said the mayor. She said some vacant and abandoned houses are also being sold cheap to developers who may refurbish them and put them back on the market.
Freeman-Wilson is optimistic about Gary’s future, and the future of U.S. Steel. Any further decline in the number of jobs could help wreck plans for redevelopment, which at this point could include a casino downtown, dependent upon approval by the state legislature and Gov. Eric Holcomb.
PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis