SHEPARD: Great places draw the young, innovative

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Randall ShepardOur public dialogue about competing with other states often focuses on development tools, tax policy, infrastructure and the like. These are surely some of the hard-edge elements of any sensible approach to building Indiana’s economic future.

We also rightly focus on “educating tomorrow’s work force,” and Gov. Mike Pence has renewed our appreciation of the fact that educating must feature education ranging from manufacturing and design skills in high schools and community colleges, to classic liberal arts, to advanced scientific experiences in research universities.

We do rather well in providing secondary and post-secondary education for both our residents and for students from elsewhere, but our retention of this talent isn’t what it needs to be.

Just how do we make ourselves better at retaining and attracting the most creative young people? The University of Evansville’s Institute for Global Enterprise recently afforded some valuable insight into how we should think about the task.

The university brought to Evansville and to Indianapolis professor John Kao, formerly of Harvard Business School, who now advises businesses and institutions on innovation, organizational transformation and emerging technologies.

Speaking about the most innovative of the millennial generation, Kao made a counterintuitive point.

“We tend to think that young people look for a job and move to the place where the job is,” he said. “But young and creative people in this generation decide what cities seem like the best places to live, then move there and hunt for a job.”

Many young innovators, of course, identify places like Seattle, Boston and New York, but this sort of place-selection regularly focuses on choices other than these big magnets.

We do, indeed, enjoy some success inside the region in attracting people looking for an interesting place to live (a fact recently made plain to me when my niece, who grew up in Chicago and is finishing Northwestern University, announced she might move to Indianapolis, both because she sees Indy as interesting and because she’s attracted by our magnificent concentration of first-rate museums).

As for homegrown talent, for several decades, Indiana’s young people have tended toward migrating to our urban/suburban areas. They move to the city.

To attract and hold such talent, we must build and burnish Indiana cities as interesting and healthy places to live. Seen in this vein, Mayor Greg Ballard’s plans for “complete streets” and alternative sports facilities (over which he has taken so much grief) seem like sensible strategies designed to make Indianapolis even more attractive to young innovators.

Likewise, Mayor Jim Brainard’s energetic redesign of downtown Carmel is plainly an effort to create an urban environment that great young talent might call home.

The whole state, including our rural areas, has an interest in the success of such strategies, and our financial arrangements should reward them rather than make them more difficult.

An analysis by Ball State University and the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute has revealed that residents of Indiana’s urban counties pay much more in state taxes than their communities receive. Vanderburgh, Marion, Hamilton and Bartholomew counties send $500-$1,200 a head more to the state treasury than the state spends in their communities. Residents in Jackson, Marshall and Blackford are net recipients of benefits on the same order.

All of Indiana should be at work creating and attracting young and innovative people to help build a stronger economic future. We should do our best to be candid with one another about just how this can happen.•


Shepard, Indiana chief justice from 1987 to 2012, is executive in residence at Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute, a research arm within IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Send comments on this column to ibjedit@ibj.com.


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  1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

  2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

  3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

  4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

  5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?