Indiana has many fine communities with good schools and great local amenities. High-earning households are eager to live in these communities, and businesses flock there to obtain access to those workers and consumers. Indiana also has many poor communities with weak schools and few amenities. Households and businesses flee such places. But honestly, it does not take an academic study to figure this out. Declining school enrollment and population decline tell nearly the whole story about a community and its assets.
For Indiana to do well in this century, it has to have more good communities that attract more people. There is no magic formula. This is not about creating only upscale communities, but rather filling our state with many places that many different people wish to live.
Michael J. Hicks, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and a professor of economics at Ball State University. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.