First Posted: 2/6/2012 9:01:31 AM | Last Updated: 2/6/2012 9:02:03 AM
LAFAYETTE – A recent evaluation of what it takes for the Greater Lafayette area to be deemed a community-of-choice by residents of all ages, especially the next generation, earned the area high scores for cost of living and social capital—being an open, safe and accessible community.
If the community wants to compete better for young professionals against communities like Madison Wis., Iowa City, Iowa, and Asheville, N.C., among others, it needs to boost its scores in after-hours activities and vitality—air and water quality, green space and healthy living assets.
Those were among the findings reported at a news conference Friday, February 3, at Greater Lafayette Commerce as the nonprofit economic development organization released the resLAults of its “Community of Choice” survey and discussed its desire for the area to appeal to the next generation of young professionals.
“We’ve gained some key insights that will guide us as we continue our quest to create a ‘Community of Choice,’” said Mike Piggott, member of the Community of Choice Committee, Chamber Council, Greater Lafayette Commerce.
Covering the Lafayette Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Benton, Carroll and Tippecanoe counties, the project undertaken by Madison, Wis.-based Next Generation Consulting included a community handprint measuring assets and amenities appealing to young professionals.
Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation Consulting announced key findings. Her study included scores for seven indexes which together create a community handprint. The scores—the higher the number, the better—and indexes:
--7 for cost of lifestyle
--6 for social capital—how open, safe and accessible the area is to all people, diversity of population and frequency of crimes
--5 for earning—diversity of employment opportunities, jobs in the knowledge-based sector and other measurement areas
--4 for learning—educational opportunities, expenditures, education levels and access
--3 for vitality—air and water quality, green space, healthy living assets
--3 for after hours—places to go and things to do after work and on weekends
--3 for around town—commute times, mass transit use, walkability
Retirees and Baby Boomers love the community, she reported. However, “People under 40 want more out of Greater Lafayette,” Ryan said. Without beefing up the areas of interest to young professionals, she said, “They are a flight risk to the region.”
Tallies of the seven indexes were 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. The average score for these communities was 5; Lafayette’s was 4.57.
The consulting work was funded through private and corporate contributions. It included comparing Greater Lafayette to peer communities; surveying more than 1,500 residents and non-residents; conducting focus groups with community leaders, young entrepreneurs, creatives, young professionals and retirees; and facilitating an inter-generational strategy session with more than 50 professionals ranging in age from 20 to 80.
About Greater Lafayette Commerce: Headquartered at 337 Columbia St. in Lafayette , Greater Lafayette Commerce ( www.greaterlafayettecommerce.com ), whose roots go back 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.