A new documentary, “Fleeing to Flyover Country,” produced in collaboration with Ball State PBS, Western Kentucky PBS, The Ball State Daily News, The Western Kentucky Herald, and Ball State’s Department of Media, premieres at 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday, Oct. 12. It will air on Ball State PBS.

This eye-opening documentary delves into the four-decades-long journey of Bowling Green, Ky., as the community embraced refugees from around the world, showcasing the positive economic impact of such an inclusive approach, which has played a pivotal role in shaping the region, resulting in a vibrant and diverse community.

The documentary raises thought-provoking questions about whether a similar strategy could be employed to rejuvenate Muncie, Ind.—transforming it from a small urban manufacturing city facing economic stagnation into a thriving hub of renewed vitality across neighborhoods, businesses, and educational institutions.

A special screening of the documentary will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at the Ross Community Center in Muncie. A discussion with the filmmakers and key contributors will follow the screening, providing the opportunity for the public to engage directly with the creators of the project.

“This documentary not only celebrates the success of the Bowling Green experience but also draws parallels with the ongoing efforts in Muncie as it begins its own journey of welcoming refugees and immigrants,” said Dr. Phil Hoffman, assistant dean of Media and general manager of Ball State Public Media. “It is a prime example of Ball State Public Media’s new strategic vision to become a leader in innovation, education, and diverse perspectives.”

Students from Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media (CCIM) and the Department of Media worked side-by-side with the professionals by gathering the interviews and visuals to tell these compelling stories.

“‘Fleeing to Flyover Country’ displays many of Ball State University’s and CCIM’s goals and values in a beautifully packaged project,” said Dr. Paaige Turner, CCIM dean. “This documentary highlights the power of storytelling, as well as the value of students, faculty, and staff working together in partnership with each other and outside organizations and universities.”

Made possible through the generous support of the Ball Brothers Foundation, this project underscores the idea that ethical choices can also prove to be beneficial for business, shedding light on the potential of community-driven initiatives to revitalize and reshape local economies.

“It is a great honor to get to tell the stories of so many teachers, families, and community leaders who offered their time and opened their homes,” said Lisa Renze-Rhodes, director of Ball State’s Unified Media Lab and writer and director of the film. “It is a privilege to get to work with students and do this kind of impactful storytelling.

“It is incumbent upon all of us in this industry to bring creativity—not just in our storytelling, but also in how those stories are shared with audiences. This project is an example of what happens when you mix a great story with hard work and ingenuity.”