Michigan City makes Forbes list

2013-10-10T06:00:00Z Michigan City makes Forbes listStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 10, 2013 6:00 am  • 

Michigan City has made a list by Forbes magazine as one of the top small communities in the country to work and do business.

The news is not surprising to some people, given the noticeable born-again changes occurring, especially in the once dormant north end/downtown area.

''We're mentioned more and more,'' said Richard Murphy, a councilman from the city's 1st Ward.

Forbes Magazine ranked Michigan City No. 121 on a list of 184 small places for business and careers.

Michigan City was rated 11th in best small places by Forbes Magazine for cost of doing business.

No other Northwest Indiana community made the list.

Factors cited by Forbes in the ranking included a cost of living being 13 percent below the national average and close proximity to Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Murphy said what has been working in Michigan City in recent years is a unified effort at getting the downtown healthy again.

"That's exciting," said Tiffany Bley, executive director of the Michigan City Main Street Association "It shows we're on the up."

There also has been a strong push to attract investment from the Chicago area to the new uptown arts district while selling investors on things such as the lakefront, marina and low cost of real estate and property taxes.

Also emphasized in the sales pitches is easy transportation to and from Chicago on the South Shore commuter rail line, which cuts through the heart of the downtown.

''If the downtown is healthy and the community is healthy it will attract business. That's our philosophy and we're sticking to it,'' Murphy said.

Mayor Ron Meer said there has been a lot of hard work in other areas, too, like the schools now headed by Barbara Eason-Watkins, who came over from Chicago in 2010.

Forbes Magazine rated Michigan City at 161 in terms of education.

That might come as a surprise to many people given Michigan City's long history of low test scores.

But Eason-Watkins has instituted things geared more toward student success such as a revamped curriculum and strict dress code.

Meer said it is great to be recognized nationally, but now his goal is to move up on the list.

"I'd like to be in the top 50," Meer said.

Lafayette was the highest ranking Indiana city on the list at number 8 followed by Columbus at 11; Muncie at 34; Terre Haute at 81; Kokomo at 125; and Elkhart at 136.

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