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#FlippingGary: Where do YOU Fit In?

By Tom OlsonOctober 9, 2019

If you have ever talked to me, read my blog, listened to my podcast, or attended one of my events or mastermind meetings, then you probably know that I have a vision about flipping the entire city of Gary, Indiana. I want people to flock here, build businesses, and grow their families. Did you know that at one point in the not-so-distant past, Gary was a thriving city? It had steel mills all around the lakefront, and the people who lived in those houses were well-employed and thriving. Unfortunately, in the 1980s and 1990s, the tax burdens on the steel industry became too much to bear. Ultimately, a large portion of the business in Gary at that time ultimately left the area. I’m not so concerned with bringing back the steel industry, but I am concerned with making Gary a place that is once again hopeful, growing, and a pivotal market in the United States. That is where #flippinggary comes in.

This concept of flipping an entire city has been on my heart for many years now, and it has been my public mission for nearly three years at this point. As I’ve talked more and more about the idea of flipping this city, I have discovered that I am not the only person with this kind of vision, mission, and passion in my heart. In fact, although a lot of people do not actually know much about Gary, I have found many have eagerly joined me in my mission to flip it once they learned about the market, the opportunities, and the need. Other investors in my mastermind group and Good Success students have also applied the #FlippingGary mindset to their own passion projects, improving communities around the country while generating solid returns for their businesses in the process. It makes me incredibly proud that simply talking about this incredibly important life mission in my life brings others into the discussion and the action in my community.

A Little Bit of Background on Gary, Indiana

Many times, when I start talking about Gary, investors immediately begin asking me, “Tom, how can I help?” The truth is, you can help Gary by helping yourself, literally. The only thing you have to do that some people find a little bit difficult is taking the time to understand the Gary market and identify where there is potential for your investment strategies and your community-go-giver efforts.

To that end, I’ll give you a little bit of background. When the steel companies left the area, Gary’s employment got hit hard. A lot of despair came into town and a lot of hope was lost. When a community loses hope, that is when things go south. The less hope you have, the more crime and deterioration you have. On top of that, in 2003 every homeowner got “reassessed” for two years’ worth of property taxes (on top of what they had already paid), which sent many property owners under and, on top of that, the mortgage companies went into a tailspin. Follow that fiasco up with the national housing crash and the Great Recession, and a massive scandal involving the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the local school system, and Gary, Indiana, has been reeling for more than a decade.

To a lot of people, that sounds like the sort of place you should run away from fast. However, for me, this is the place I not only want to make my home; it’s the place I want to fight for with every ounce of creativity, charity, passion, and professional acumen that I’ve got. If that sounds crazy to you, it’s not. And furthermore, it’s not a financial sacrifice either. I’ve been doing very, very well since I made the decision to flip Gary, Indiana, and even better than that since I started telling people how and why I’m doing it. Let me tell you the rest of the story…

The Rest of the Story

So, around 2006, I had some economic issues in my own life. Around the same time, I decided to move my family from Crown Point, Indiana, to Gary, Indiana. The house was just a couple of blocks from an abandoned high school, and I used to walk up the street to the school and walk around the track, which was called Lou Wallace track. Sometimes there would be people walking the track or just sitting on the bleachers, and one day, I was walking around the track and I realized that in the eyes of everyone I passed, there was just no hope. I said to myself (really, I said it to God), “God, please bring somebody. Please have somebody come help these people.” And you know what He answered? He said, “That person is you.”

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That moment stayed with me, but I’m ashamed to admit it stayed with just me for another four years. That happened in 2008, and until 2012 I lived with the burden that I was supposed to help the people of Gary, Indiana, but I wasn’t doing anything to make that happen. I was pondering it, but I wasn’t really making anything happen. Thank goodness, I attended a mastermind in 2012 that changed this stagnation and put me on a path to action, right along with Gary. I told those people my vision, and someone said, “If you think you’re supposed to do something in the world and you don’t every tell anyone about it, you will never make it happen.” So, I started telling everyone, and #FlippingGary stopped being a dream and a burden and started being a passion and my greatest point of pride.

How You Fit Into #FlippingGary

So, there you have it. That is why I am flipping Gary, Indiana. And make no mistake: If everyone hears me and no one listens, I am still flipping Gary and I will still tell everyone I meet about what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, and how it’s going to happen (one house at a time). Now, you might think, “Tom, there is no way you will ever flip every house in Gary.” Well, you would be right. There is no way I would. I recognize that my job is not to get out there and swing the hammer or “buy the block” as a lot of people say until I own the entire town. My job is not to bring in hedge funds to buy everything and kick the people living here to the curb. My job is to raise awareness about the city of Gary, including its ideal position as the true crossroads of the country, so that the people who are meant to be here with me can make there way here and get to work with me.

Does that mean I do not invest here? Of course I invest here. I absolutely DO invest in Gary. We buy, renovate, and either rent or flip more than 100 houses a year on top of building and maintaining a thriving Airbnb portfolio. I just know that my real estate business is part of a bigger enterprise and movement: The Community Go-Giver movement. The annual Good Success Community Go-Giver event is something that arose from my real estate investing because I knew that there was massive, untapped opportunity for investors in this area. Now, we work closely with investors all over the United States and Canada to help them identify opportunities in Gary and take the community go-giver spirit back to their own hometowns as well.

What is a Community Go-Giver? A community go-giver is someone who asks what they can do to build up their community and does not ask for recognition or thanks. That doesn’t mean, however, that they do not run successful businesses or that they are not financially secure. As we say at Good Success, you must “Work to Have to Give” if you want to really make a difference!

If you want to learn more about masterminds, #FlippingGary, how to be a community go-giver, or how to achieve Good Success, I deal with all of those topics on my website, GoodSuccess.com. Click HERE to sign up for emails and other correspondence from Good Success, then send me a message to learn more about how you fit in with the Community Go-Giver movement and experiencing truly Good Success.

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