By Jeff Quyle, Radius Indiana President and CEO
The Radius Indiana region is home to numerous businesses, a beautiful landscape as well as a culture and mindset that values personal responsibility and hard work. That mindset is an advantage to the businesses in our eight-county region, which includes Washington, Crawford, Dubois, Orange, Martin, Daviess, Greene and Lawrence counties. The labor force in our communities is productive – and good for business – and it turns out that recent research shows that the good work ethic of our region is just as good for our folks themselves. While we all know that intuitively, it’s good to read a study that backs up the facts.
In a study titled “The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergeneration Mobility: Childhood Exposure Effects and County-level Estimates,” published in 2015, Harvard economists looked at the types of communities that offer upward mobility for children. They studied the movements of families with children from high-poverty neighborhoods to neighborhoods with less poverty. Subsequently, the New York Times applied the study’s findings to statistics for every county in the U.S., to see which counties had the right circumstances and cultures that allow children to earn more income than their parents, which is the American Dream after all.
The study found that for each year a child is exposed to positive surroundings it helps increase his or her chances for success. And on a county-by-county basis, every county in the Radius region was statistically shown to deliver increased chances for financial improvements for those raised in our region.
For example, a girl who grows up in an average income family in Orange County would have an average future income better than girls who grow up in 69 percent of other counties in the U.S. As the young woman enters the workforce she is likely to make an additional $1,890 per year in income, because she had been shaped by Orange County’s environment.
Particularly outstanding is the anticipated value of growing up in Dubois County. A boy who grows up in an underprivileged family in Dubois County is expected to earn more than another child raised in 96 percent of all counties in the U.S, which translates to $5,960 more in yearly income.
And according to the projections, every Radius county is a positive place for children to grow up, in terms of giving them an advantage in their future earning potential—our communities are creating positive futures for our children.
What kinds of factors seem to be important to helping children grow up better prepared to work in the world? Good schools are one factor, of course. Also factoring in are lower rates of violent crime, higher percentages of two-parent households and less segregation by income and race. These are all strengths of the Radius region.
Unfortunately, we do not have enough jobs in the region to keep our future workforce employed; many of our youth leave our counties when they reach young adulthood. Our Radius population includes only 7.6 percent of residents who are between the ages of 18 and 24. The state of Indiana population overall, for that same age range, is 10 percent. And among residents who are ages 25 to 34, Radius has only 11.2 percent, while the state population is 12.8 percent, and the national average is 13.3 percent. These numbers show that our youth do not stay in our region when they become young adults.
Along with your county’s local economic development office, Radius Indiana works to bring new jobs to the region. We want our youth to have opportunities to stay in our region to live and to work, if they so choose. We are committed to helping our existing businesses grow and prosper, so they may hire more of our local residents, and we also work to persuade new companies to come to the Radius region to bring jobs that can be filled by the types of people who will be productive workers and lifelong residents of our communities.
We thank you for your continued support of your local economic development strategies and initiatives. It takes long-term investment in infrastructure, education and quality of place to build communities that are as good as those in our region for raising families, and we know these types of investments have incredible returns.