Community and business leaders gathered Aug. 1 at the Hillenbrand Auditorium for the Hillenbrand Community Leadership Series. Attendees received information about Indiana's demographic trends and placemaking in rural communities, including an update from Batesville Main Street representatives.
Matt Kinghorn, Indiana Business Research Center senior demographic analyst, reported, "Indiana will add 666,000 residents between 2015-50. That's a 10 percent increase. The population will climb from 6.61 million to 7.27 million. Most of that growth will be in the aging population. It is estimated there will be a jump in the senior population from 15 percent to almost 21 percent .... One out of every five Hoosiers will be 65 or older by 2030."
"Indiana's population is growing at a faster pace than its neighbors, but it is lagging behind states in the South and West."
Projection comparisons from 2010-40 show Kentucky growing by 9.2 percent and Ohio by 1.5 percent. However, Michigan is expected to lose 0.1 percent of its population and Illinois, 1 percent, the Indiana University graduate noted.
Over the next 35 years, "59 of Indiana's 92 counties are expected to lose population .... All the growth in the state will be concentrated in metro areas, such as Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Lafayette. We have major metropolitan areas on our borders – Cincinnati, Louisville and Chicago – and we benefit from a lot of suburban growth from metropolitan areas.
"The five fastest-growing communities will all be Indy-area suburban counties. The Indy metro's share of the total population will jump from 30 percent in 2015 to nearly 35 percent in 2050."
The speaker grouped the counties into three categories:
• Metropolitan, which encompasses 44 counties;
• Micropolitan (counties having a city/town with a population between 10,000-50,000), 25;
• Rural, 23.
"As a group, Indiana's metro counties will grow by 15 percent by 2050, micropolitan counties will decline by 6 percent and rural counties will slip by 9 percent .... Micropolitan and rural counties are expected to have declines in each age group, except 65 and older, over the next two decades."
Kinghorn explained that natural increase is the difference between the number of births and deaths during the year. Net migration is the difference between the number of people coming into an area and the number leaving an area throughout the year.
"For rural counties, rarely has net migration played a role in driving the population growth. It's always been natural increase .... The main driver of population change is net migration.
"Sixty-three of Indiana's 92 counties are expected to have a net out-migration between 2015-25. However, Indiana as a whole is projected to have a net inflow of roughly 42,000 residents over this period. The Indy metro area alone is expected to have a net in-migration of 67,000 residents," he added.
Placemaking in rural communities
Colette Childress, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs project manager, announced, "OCRA works with local, state and national partners to provide resources and technical assistance to aid communities in shaping and achieving their vision for community economic development."
Since the organization was created in 2005, "more than $820 million in funds have been secured for rural Indiana. In 2017, OCRA awarded grant funding to 93 Indiana communities to total more than $28 million."
"Our guiding principles are "to retain, attract and develop talent in our rural communities; and incite and encourage regional collaboration in rural planning processes."
Using a quote from Michigan State University, she explained, "'The easiest way to think about rural placemaking is in a regional context. Just the presence of rural areas with distinct identity surrounding more densely populated areas adds appeal and can be a population and economic development attractor."
"My best example of this is if you look at where you work or live. There's probably a worn path that people follow every day .... That's your community telling you, you need something there."
• "Is community specific, inspired and driven. You want to see the community get engaged;
• "Assures you want to live where you are;
• "Has partnerships that make it stronger. You don't want to do this alone;
• "Impacts the economy and population;
• "Is something everyone can play a role in, from those who are younger or older;
• "Shows that temporary is acceptable and encouraged; and
• "Is fun."
"I'm a big believer in re-use, re-imagine, re-vision and re-engage," Childress commented. "I have seen people in other communities throw out carpet in a parking spot and do yoga or put out benches." After getting permission from local and/or state officials, persons have painted concrete barriers, overpasses and even electrical boxes. "Temporary signs to let people know how far of a walk it it to get to the next amenity are also great."
In Greenfield, South Carolina, Mice on Main is an attraction that was inspired by the children's book "Goodnight Moon." Conceived as a high school student's senior project, it includes nine bronze mice that can be found along Main Street. Persons follow clues to discover their locations.
"You can engage people by taking a blank space in the community and putting chalk out, so they can draw pictures, or you can do an 'I wish' campaign, where you take pictures of vacant buildings and have persons finish the sentence, 'I wish this was' about the building. A lot of community members don't think they've been listened to or asked how they feel about something. This allows them to have a say."
Childress told attendees OCRA has grants available for various projects and encouraged them to apply.
Placemaking in Batesville
Brian Rennekamp and Greg Wade explained that Batesville Main Street is part of a national organization that focuses on downtown districts. It also has a 501(c)(3) designation.
The group has been having conversations about how to make downtown a base for the community. They created a pop-up park in front of Amack's Well, 103 E. George St., to get feedback from patrons, businesses and citizens. "The response has been overwhelmingly positive," Rennekamp noted.
They are also working on other ideas, including streetscape improvements.
The spokespersons reported there are 10 principles for successful squares/downtowns:
• Image and identity – "This is the design side of things, and it gets people engaged and creates memorable spaces," Wade pointed out. "It identifies who we are as a community," Rennekamp added.
• Attractions and destinations – "There has to be something that gets people there. In some downtowns, it's a fountain," Wade noted.
• Amenities – "How do people use the space? There could be a bench to give people a place to sit and interact with others," he said.
• Flexible design – "We can use the space in different ways for day-to-day functions and special programs ... (and) make the space more walkable," Wade announced. Rennekamp commented, "The complaint we hear is that downtown is a parking lot, but businesses rely on those parking lots. We need to find a way to reutilize those spaces for the farmers' market and other events. This is one thing we're challenged with as a community."
• Seasonal strategy – "We need to think of how we can be outdoors all year long and use that to our advantage," Wade maintained.
• Access – "This includes trails and connectivity and getting people into a space."
• The inner square and the out square – "We need to activate the outer areas of the space (downtown) so we can bring more people in."
• Reaching out like an octopus – "We've got all these wonderful assets, but what we're missing is that fabric that brings everything together," he observed.
• The central role of management – "We need to find ways to partner with different organizations to maintain the downtown because the city can't do everything."
• Diverse funding sources – "Fundraising is a big part of this, and we need to find different revenue streams to support it," Wade emphasized.