Topics: Miller College of Business, Building Better Communities

April 3, 2012

Factors that influence Indiana's overall quality of life and economic conditions have been broken down on a county-by-county basis as a result of an in-depth analysis by Ball State University.


Indiana Community Asset Inventory and Rankings 2012 (CAIR) provides policymakers and residents within Indiana an objective, data-focused assessment that assigns grades of A through F to various assets within the state's 92 counties.


The report evaluates the educational attainment and health of Hoosier citizens, the performance of K-12 education and local government efficiency and cost, the availability of natural resources and cultural amenities, the level to which these have been augmented by local public investment, and private recreational and arts activities.


The project, which includes an interactive website, was created by Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) with support from the university's Building Better Communities (BBC) initiative. The office of Indiana's lieutenant governor supported this research project.


"We are confident that we have identified and described those factors that make places more attractive to residents and business investments," said CBER director Michael Hicks, noting the analysis is the first attempt to evaluate counties using such variables. "It is clear from the research that issues such as efficient government, human capital and desirable health care outcomes appear to cluster in regions."


Hicks said data have been carefully selected from secondary sources, based on existing research of the factors that contribute to quality of life, and aggregated to the county level. The assessment is based on factors within the control of county-level public or private entities.


"We graded on a curve, and there were an equal number of A and F grades given as well as an equal number of B and D grades given while average performers receive C grades," Hicks said. "For areas in which a community has no short-term control, such as the presence of naturally occurring assets including lakes and rivers, we assigned an index number with average being 100 points."


"It is our hope that this index will be used as a frank self-assessment, and that without regard to individual grades, communities will use this report to motivate positive and lasting improvement in Indiana. The quality of local assets directly impacts individual communities' — and Indiana's — capacity to attract business investment and human capital."