A poem written by Willian Wendell Hirschell “A’int God Been Good to Indiana,” often works its way into the Author Rob’s writing. It’s like, you got to be goofin’, right?
Indiana calls itself the “crossroads of America.” Of course, a doormat is the crossroads of an entrance or exit to a building. A runner rug is the crossroads of a well-traveled room. Whenever a TV show or a movie wants to place a setting in a common, dull, or dense place, the writers draw upon Indiana. The malpractice case waiting to happen in “MASH” was Frank Burns from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Muncie is often a fool’s foil. And the short-lived fantasy TV show “Erie, Indiana” drew upon the contrast between spooky strangeness and the saccharine sameness of the Hoosier State. And let’s stay with the term “Hoosier” for a while. The original term for “Hoosier” has been long forgotten, likely because people from Indiana were so imminently unmemorable.
By most positive measures, Indiana lags. Of course Indiana is upheld by the south. That is one positive outcome of the Civil War. Indiana will never fall below 44th or 45th. Inversely, Indiana comes in high when it doesn’t count. That is not to say that Indiana is just Iowa with fewer teeth per capita or Washington state with just a lot more wastrels, however. It is a life sciences center and orthopedic manufacturing hub. It boasts two of the finest state universities in the country. Some areas are rich with advanced manufacturing. But much of Indiana is low skill worker land. Indiana’s industrial base will always be walloped and whip sawed between the low wage overseas workforce and robots and AI.
There are some positives in Indiana, however. Elkhart and Kosciuszko counties in north central Indiana have unemployment rates around two percent, about as low as it can get. Fort Wayne is a regional education center and is the headquarters of a large regional healthcare system. And there is the Westgate Crane Technology Park in Odon, Indiana that leverages its relationship with nearby Crane Naval Weapons Support Center. This innovative business park is linked to the eight-county south central Indiana economic development organization called Radius Indiana.
The organization shares the struggles that many rural areas face-lack of innovation. While West Lafayette and its incubator industries can crank out thousands of patents and breakthrough technologies, rural manufacturing focuses more on low tech manufacturing and smaller satellite facilities of large out-of-state firms. Still the core of some progressivity is around in Indiana academic centers and with energized people. It is more than a lot of places have.
INDIANA IS A GOOD PLACE TO “BE FROM”
It is almost cliché that most talented and ambitious college graduates leave Indiana for more hospitable places. Simply put, much of Indiana just plain munches. Almost no recreational and cultural events or opportunities. Chain restaurants, if lucky. Treeless newly-platted subdivisions and decayed downtowns.
These advancements are important to note and there are some opportunities in the Hoosier state for economic and social advancement. But at the end of the day, Indiana is still a good state to “be from.”
WE SOMETIMES HAVE TO TAKE WHAT WE CAN SCROUNGE IN THE DESERT OF THE REAL!