Bobby Cooper is arguably one of the top stylists in the Midwest, and certainly the most well-known in Indianapolis. His salon, which bears his name, is consistently one of the best in the city and nation, and is regularly featured in Salon Today Magazine as one of the Top 200 Salons in North America. Bobby grew up in Beech Grove on the Southside of Indianapolis. His mom was a hairdresser while his father was in college, but had stopped doing hair by the time Bobby and his sister were born. As a…
Twitter wasn’t around when Truman beat Dewey in 1948, but I’m willing to bet that this year’s election results caused the biggest collective jaw-drop in at least the last century of presidential contests.
But even though the Presidential outcome was a shock, some of the causes aren’t new or surprising – among them, that “Main Street America” feels left behind. County by county, a wave of red spread across the heartland fueled by frustration in areas which have largely been left out of the 21st century economy.
The wounds of this election may take time to heal, but we can’t afford to stop striving – and part of the “work we are in” is extending economic opportunity to more communities across rural and small town Indiana.
Think about this: after the last recession, just twenty counties in the U.S. accounted for the majority of all new business start-ups in the United States. 99 percent of all new (post-recession) jobs have been created in counties with populations in excess of half-million.
Indianapolis has gained tech jobs at a rate 2X faster than our peer cities over the last 5 years. We are ranked in the TOP 20 in life sciences, advanced manufacturing and energy employment, yet this growth is concentrated in a handful of counties.
In general, the trend shows people and businesses are moving to bigger urban areas. The largest hundred metro regions are now home to two-thirds of the U.S. population, and produce more than two-thirds of our economic output.
Indiana has 92 counties. The ones that are part of a metropolitan area are doing ok (metro Indianapolis accounts for 70% of the state’s growth on its own). But what about the others?
This is the challenge facing Governor-elect Holcomb, local elected officials, economic development agencies in those communities – and most urgently, the people and employers who face an uncertain future.
Opportunity exists outside our larger cities. The same study that ranked Indy 20th in ‘advanced industry’ jobs ranks Indiana second in recent job growth in these high-tech sectors. Smaller communities need a strategy to seize their share of this trend.
A good plan starts with the basics. Desirable neighborhoods, good schools and economic opportunity create a perfect storm for communities. This combination has become more critical, as we have watched the luring of out-of-state businesses to relocate to Indiana to have less impact, given the incentives and tax breaks created to get them here. We need to continue the momentum of focusing upon local innovation, cultivating our own talent. This effort alone will turn heads, attracting companies by our culture and a quality of life that helps them recruit and retain a productive workforce.
But building a workforce that makes growing employers take notice takes its own strategy; this is where storytelling and skill development become critical.
As a storyteller, I coach companies and people on effective pitching. A standard elevator pitch designed to attract or keep young talent may be just what a city or town needs. Suburban and rural areas are indeed desirable places to live, but they need to tell a more compelling story in a more powerful way. Local economic development organizations can’t just appeal to business executives with dry statistics and tax breaks; along with other public and civic groups, they have to cultivate a community brand and help tell a story that explains why they offer a wonderful place to live and do business.
Colleges and universities create attractive communities, yet at least half of Indiana’s science, advanced manufacturing and tech jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree.* While education is a great idea, it’s not the only option and there are plenty of groups who are disrupting this space. Attracting elite talent to fill small towns does not have to be the goal, what is needed is a strategy to upgrade skills to meet employer demand, to inspire innovation, and to create an ecosystem to foster those ideas – rooting them where they can flourish. A local push to become part of Indiana’s automotive or orthopedic supply chain, for example, may depend more on associate’s degrees rather than advanced degrees. Or no degree, as is the case with coding schools such as Eleven Fifty Academy who can prepare someone for a high-paying job in less than six months, including an internship.
The momentum is going in the right direction. We just need a constructive plan to help lift our entire state, especially those counties that are the outliers.
“You were sick, but now you’re well, and there’s work to do.” – Vonnegut, Timequake
*Brookings Institute: Indianapolis has 3 of the top 4 fastest growing Tech occupations that do not require a bachelor’s degree: systems support, network administrator, and coders. These are career paths for anyone.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang hosted a Cut-a-Thon and silent auction on October 9 at their Carmel location along Main Street in the Arts District. All proceeds benefited Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place to support their Christmas Day outreach efforts to feed those in need. All proceeds will go to Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place to support their Christmas Day outreach efforts to feed those in need. Recently named the #2 Best Soul Food Restaurant in the United States, Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place has been a famous Indiana soul food institution for over…
Realtors? Yes. Different? ABSOLUTELY! $250,000 returned to clients over the last 2 years. Yes, $250,000 over 2 years by a handful of agents is what the Indy Plus Realty Group has given back through their Community Contributors program. Dr. Tom Galovic (Dr. Tom has a PhD!) started the Indy Plus Realty Group in 2014 with the intention of giving back to the community in a profound way. He created his own program, Community Contributors, to honor important individuals who truly make a difference in our communities. “We know of no one else…
One of my favorite quotes from former Texas Governor Ann Richards, “In Texas, gun control is using both hands to steady your weapon.” (her other indelible statement made during the ’92 Presidential election, “Stick a fork in him, he’s done.” referring to then President GHW Bush)
My friend Emily Longnecker and I went to Poseidon Experience for, well, the experience. We weren’t disappointed. Jesse is thoughtful and methodical in his approach, clearly a professional. As a structural analysis expert of posture and biomechanics, I appreciate Jesse’s aesthetic and awareness. Obviously we have different backgrounds but our end game is similar: proper mechanics, efficient body positioning and accuracy.
In less than 30 minutes, former Navy SEAL and Poseidon Experience owner Jesse Barnett reassess my shooting stance and bad habits with firing a weapon.
There’s something empowering about firing a weapon, and I have to say that with the targets having the silhouettes of men, there’s added motivation to strike true. Not that we were digging deep into some sense of revenge or sadistic expression that we can only safely do in a facility like Poseidon Experience to avoid legal entanglements and prison time…ok, maybe there’s a little of that…
“You’re competitive,” said Jesse to me during a drill. I looked at him with a sideways glance. Like he should be surprised. Emily is equally, if not more so. “You’re intense…” he added. I almost wanted to say “no shit.” but I just smiled. Again, no surprise.
Having a former Navy SEAL instruct you in shooting a weapon, you know without a doubt the level of professionalism is off the charts. Jesse knows what he is talking about. After spending a few hours with him, I am so proud men like him take on the job of being a SEAL.
Poseidon Experience is my new stress relief outlet. It’s empowering. Perhaps I should hit up hot yoga immediately after…
Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Chet Wright recently celebrated his 98th birthday. He is a 1936 graduate of Ben Davis High School. At the time of Wright’s graduation, the school had 400 students. It is now among the largest high schools in the state. “I’ve witnessed a lot of change to this area in my lifetime,” states Wright, who grew up in Avon and has lived here for nearly a century. During the Great Depression, his family was hit hard by the economic circumstances of the time, losing their home. Not able…