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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Gary to combat digital divide with $8 million tech investment

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Gary, Indiana, expects to soon launch The Fiber Smart House, a new $8 million tech epicenter, in the city’s historic Union Station. The project, which is a partnership between Gary and the telecommunications development agency Digital Equity, will create a state-of-the-art technology workforce and educational training hub for residents. Many residents and stakeholders believe the investment will act as a catalyst for returning Gary to its former glory.

The Fiber Smart House is a significant investment in Gary’s future. It will help to revitalize the city’s downtown and create new opportunities for its residents. It is also a sign of the city’s commitment to the tech enterprise, which is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the economy.

“This is a major milestone for our city,” said Gary Mayor Jerome Prince. “The Fiber Smart House will help us to level the digital playing field and create opportunities for all of our residents to participate in the tech economy.”

The 10,000-square-foot Fiber Smart House will be located in the former train depot of the renovated Gary Union Station, which was built in 1910 and was once one of the busiest train stations in the Midwest. The station – recently restored to its former glory after being designated one of the 10 Most Endangered Places in Indiana in 2018 – is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

More on the Union Station investment

Fiber Smart Home; Fiber Smart House; Gary, Indiana;
A rendering of Gary, Indiana’s historic Union Station, the future location of the Fiber Smart Home. (Photo provided/Chelsea Whittington)

Secondly, the train depot renovations include classrooms, labs and office space for tech startups and businesses. It will also offer a variety of critical services for Gary residents, including security and public safety emergency services.

Additionally, a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the creation of the Fiber Smart House took place Aug. 23. The facility opens in the fall of 2024.

The project creates 100 new jobs during construction and 200 permanent jobs once construction on the Fiber Smart House. Additionally, the project anticipates it will generate $10 million in economic activity for the city.

“The tech field is the future of Indiana’s workforce, and I believe Northwest Indiana is the perfect place for it to boom,” said Indiana’s Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. “The Fiber Smart House will be a vital first step in changing wealth outcomes for generations.”

Gary’s preservationists and historians are also excited about the technological revitalization of the nearly forgotten steel city of Gary. Tyrell Anderson, president of Decay Devils, an organization focused primarily on preserving historical and cultural landmarks within the city, also expressed excitement over the multimillion-dollar tech expansion.

“It feels great. This is a long time coming,” Anderson told the Times of Northwest Indiana. “We talked about it and found the council shared the same vision as us. We all work nine to five and did this in our spare time knowing it was going to be good for the downtown, good for the city, and good for everybody.”

Contact multi-media staff writer Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846 or via email at noralp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @NoralParham. For more business news, click here.

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