The History of Innovation in Gary, Indiana

While this may challenge common perceptions, Ivy Tech’s Society of Innovators of NWI along with many Gary residents view their city as a place of surprising and ongoing innovation.


Gary has been producing innovative groups and individuals for over 100 years. The city itself was founded as a result of US Steel Company’s innovation in the manufacturing industry in 1906. From then on, many people from this area next to the lake have gone on to become huge successes in education, athletics, business and even Hollywood. However, a select few have demonstrated practices of “thinking creatively and acting in a way that produces something new or different along the Innovation Continuum,” which is how The Society defines innovation.


-Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC): GCSC has become what is known as a ‘model school district’. This means that the district has met special qualifications in terms of innovative educational practices. GCSC is the first district in the state of Indiana to achieve such a status. This has also helped the district to develop several sister schools in China, giving Gary students the opportunity to study abroad and learn about different cultures.

-Paul Samuelson: Paul was a Gary native who became a renowned economist. He was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.


-Robert Kearns: Robert was born and raised in Gary. He was a lifelong inventor who, in the 1960s, invented the intermittent windshield wiper which revolutionized the auto industry.


These are just some of the great innovators who have come out of Gary. The city has produced countless successful individuals with creative ideas. To learn more about Gary innovators and innovators across Northwest Indiana, visit


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