First Posted: 7/23/2011 6:41:42 PM | Last Updated: 7/23/2011 6:42:55 PM
WEST LAFAYETTE – With an eye toward enhancing the area’s appeal to the next generation of young professionals, representatives of Benton, Carroll and Tippecanoe counties — the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) — announced Monday that Greater Lafayette Commerce is leading a “Community of Choice” initiative.
Activities include working with Madison, Wis.-based Next Generation Consulting, surveying current and former residents, and creating a community handprint measuring assets and amenities appealing to young professionals.
“Next Generation Consulting has been retained through private and corporate contributions to study the area, conduct focus groups, evaluate the community against our peers and identify what will attract and keep young professionals in our community,” said Mike Piggott, a member of the Community of Choice Committee, operating under the Chamber Council of Greater Lafayette Commerce.
The announcement was made at a news conference at Samara, a West Lafayette home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
“We want thousands to complete this survey — people of all ages, former residents and, of course, our current residents,” Piggott said. “Responses are critical to us gaining key insights and preparing our community to be a competitive community of choice in the future.”
The survey is available online at www.greaterlafayettecommerce.com . “It takes just a few minutes, and it can be done anytime,” Piggott said.
The survey asks respondents what attracts them to the community; what they like or liked about living in the area; what they value here; how connected they feel; and how they would rate things such as education, earning and cost of lifestyle, among other questions.
The community handprint that Next Generation Consulting is preparing will cover seven indexes: vitality, earning, learning, social capital, cost of lifestyle, after hours and around town.
Each index was presented by a different speaker, outlining areas to be covered. Tippecanoe County Commissioner David Byers carried farmers market produce to represent vitality. “This index will cover everything from water and air quality to public trails, number of physicians-per-capita and even availability of locally grown produce at farmers markets.”
Randy Strasser, mayor of Delphi, carried money for the second index, earning. “Income is important,” he said. “We’ll be looking at future job growth, knowledge workers, unemployment rates, average income and similar data.”
The third index, learning, was announced by Lafayette mayor Tony Roswarski, who carried a textbook. “How committed is our community to high quality education for all our residents? We’ll measure pupil/teacher ratio, educational attainment, community and technical college offerings and other areas in the education arena,” Roswarski said.
John Dennis, mayor of West Lafayette, said the fourth index is social capital. “That’s a measure of our recognition that great talent comes in every race, creed and color. We will tally women-owned businesses, ethnic and religious diversity, property crimes and other indications of a welcoming, diverse, accepting and livable community.”
With an arts program in hand, Community of Choice Committee member Charlie Shook announced the fifth index: After hours. “We’ll look at arts, entertainment, recreation and sporting venues,” he said. “We’ll also consider the range of full-service restaurants, book and music stores and other community offerings that give residents respite from the work day.”
The sixth index, cost of lifestyle, was announced by Kelly Kepner, director of Benton County Economic Development. “For young professions getting started in their careers and others, affordability is key,” she said. “We’ll measure average home value, utility costs, mortgage rates, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and other living expenses.”
The seventh index, around town, looks at commute times, mass transit usage, walkability and other transportation areas, Piggott said.
The tallies of the seven indexes will be compared to six other communities: Ann Arbor, Mich.; Asheville, N.C.; Bloomington, Ind.; Eugene, Ore.; Iowa City, Iowa; Madison, Wis.; and Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.
Other Community of Choice activities will include hosting the founder of Next Generation Consulting, Rebecca Ryan, as keynote speaker at Greater Lafayette Commerce’s annual dinner on September 27, and release of the community handprint in November.
“We’ll use this information to determine our next step in further enhancing our community,” Piggott said.
About Greater Lafayette Commerce: Headquartered at 337 Columbia St. in Lafayette, Greater Lafayette Commerce (www.greaterlafayettecommerce.com), whose roots go back nearly 85 years, is a nonprofit membership organization supported by local businesses, industries and governments. Its mission is to advance economic and community prosperity for a superior quality of life.