Business and Economics

‘Knight Cities’ Calls On Citizens to Better Community

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By: Lakeshore Staff

October 27, 2014 — A national organization is asking Lake Co. residents how they think Gary,Ind. can be more successful.

Over the next three years, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, a private, independent foundation based in Miami, will invest $15 million to answer these questions in Gary and 25 other communities across the United States.

The foundation believes that it is the city’s own activists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects, city officials, educators, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, block captains and social workers who have the solutions, and it wants them to take hold of their city’s future. All are welcome to submit ideas to the Knight Cities Challenge (knightcities.org) for projects on what the foundation believes are the three key drivers of success in Gary: attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of civic engagement.

Why these three focus areas, instead of traditional metrics such as better school systems or more employers? Because smart research has proven that these three concepts are the real key to long-term success in our communities. Strengthening these aspects of our community is a holistic approach to success – it gives our community the tools it needs to do everything else.

Businesses already know that attracting and keeping the best and brightest is good for their companies, but it’s also good for cities. Research shows cities are stronger, more resilient and vibrant when they can attract people with skills, education and the ability to succeed. But to achieve this, cities must make it clear that they offer a diverse culture and vibrant lifestyle that appeal to talented people, both younger and older.

Expanding opportunity means both expanding economic prospects broadly and breaking down divides that can otherwise create bifurcated communities in which the wealthy and the poor live unconnected from one another. To do this, cities should create spaces where people of diverse backgrounds can connect across economic barriers so that strengths can be shared throughout the community.

Engagement focuses on spurring connections between residents and driving civic involvement. We know that residents must take hold of their cities’ futures if they want them to succeed. We need to find ways to encourage residents to be engaged and to band together with others to set the agenda for change.

We know these concepts have made a change here in Gary. We are working to revitalize the city one neighborhood at a time and need your help to succeed!

Now there’s a chance for all of us to actively participate in and sustain the city’s growth. Do your part and submit an idea at knightcities.org before the Nov. 14 deadline. No project is too small – as long as your idea is big. You can find out more about this opportunity by attending on of our informational question and answer sessions.

UPCOMING COMMUNITY FORUMS
October 28th at 4:00 pm
Gary City Hall
401 Broadway
Gary, Indiana

October 29th at 6:30 pm
Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts, Miller Beach Arts and Creative District
540 S. Lake Street
Gary, Indiana

*October 31st at 2:00 pm
Ivy Tech Community College
1440 East 35th Street
Gary, Indiana
*featuring Carol Colletta, VP of National and Community Initiatives, Knight Foundation

Kelly Anoe of the Legacy Foundation and Richard Leverett of the City of Gary contributed to this report.

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