February 18, 2024

Growing Indiana Small Towns

THE NEXT U.S. Census is expected to show a historic migration of middle-class families away from the large urban areas and into adjacent small towns. The foundation has asked Dr. Eric Schansberg, an adjunct scholar and nationally known economist, to address the inherent opportunities of Indiana small towns, especially those with a unique vision and identity. If this is something that interests you, we need your financial support.

We hope to use Roanoke, Indiana, as our model for small-city growth during this coming period of exurban migration. Numbers from neighboring Ohio are instructive. During the last decade, Columbus, like Indianapolis and Fort Wayne here, was a growth hub. The Columbus metro area grew by 12.5 percent, far exceeding the national average of 7.4 percent.

But growth in the rest of Ohio was essentially flat. Columbus (again, like Indianapolis and Fort Wayne) was growing through migration, drawing people from the rest of the state. Toward the end of the decade that draw began to decline. In 2020-2021, metro Columbus actually lost population to the rest of Ohio. We are told the same is true of Indiana’s metros.

Dr. Schansberg, a professor of economics at IU Southeast in New Albany, is the author of numerous academic journal articles and dozens of popular-press articles on public policy. In particular, he explains how Indiana towns can avoid the mistakes of the larger nearby cities and adopt policies that set them apart — shining cities on the hill, to use the biblical image.

Please support this important project by sending a tax-deductible donation to “Small Town Indiana,” The Indiana Policy Review Foundation, PO Box 5166, Fort Wayne, IN 46895.


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