Several Midwest cities like Indianapolis are experiencing an economic renaissance. Yet, the region’s inability to attract people threatens long-term prospects.
The stereotype of the Heartland is of a left-behind post-industrial region full of cities with intractable problems. While there’s some truth to that, especially when you look at struggling metros like Gary and Youngstown, it discounts the numerous successes of their neighbors. While these cities may not have the glamour of New York and Los Angeles or the growth rates of some Sunbelt boomtowns, they, nevertheless, belie the notion that the Midwest can’t compete.
Indianapolis is a perfect case study. The city is home to a rapidly growing constellation of startups and frequently listed as a strong second-tier tech center. Big business is knocking at Indianapolis’ door. Salesforce put its second largest U.S. office in the city and the company’s logo now adorns the top of the state’s tallest building. Amazon selected the city as a finalist in its HQ2 competition. And tech service giant Infosys is building a 3,000 person office, which upon completion will be the largest corporate training center in the country.
This low-cost city also happens to be located in a business-friendly state that is ranked 10th for its tax climate by the Tax Foundation. Additionally, Indiana is fiscally solid, AAA-rated and has $2 billion in the bank—positioning it well to navigate any economic downturn. These facts are potent symbols of how this Midwestern city has succeeded in transforming its economy for the 21st century.
Aaron Renn is a contributing editor of City Journal and author of the Manhattan Institute report, “Midwest Success Stories: These 10 Cities Are Blooming, Not Rusting.”
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