Yorktown Indiana growing faster than the state, says Ball State economist
By Rick Yencer
YORKTOWN, INDIANA- Economist Michael Hicks says his hometown is growing faster than Indiana at 5.1 percent and has become the focal point in East Central Indiana.
And the Yorktown community is in the midst of significant change, Hicks said, and will be more like Fishers and Noblesville than Muncie.
However, Hicks also sees Delaware County in its fifth decade of population decline which he projects through at least 2025.
"In my lifetime, you will not see an economic turnaround in eastern Indiana," said Hicks, who directs Ball State's Center for Business and Economic Research,
Hicks offered his view on the town and its school system Tuesday before about 50 community leaders and other residents. That talk came after the Yorktown School Board met and held a public hearing on its $23 million budget for 2014 that includes a 6.8 percent hike in spending and 52 percent hike in the schools tax rate. School officials offered no explanation of the spending after a taxpayer objected to the impact higher taxes could have on economic growth and new jobs.
Yorktown schools saw 67 more students this year and officials reported an unexpected hike in kindergarten enrollment that has packed Pleasantville Elementary School.
School Supt. Jennifer McCormick asked Hicks to study the community and come up some recommendations on the future of schools. She also insisted there was "no hidden agenda" over expanding or building schools. The school system seeking a 22 percent hike in revenue for its capital fund, but the school board offered no explanation of the spending or higher taxes.
Hicks said there was no easy answer to whether Yorktown should build or expand schools. But he believed the schools had to continue high academic performance to attract families and their youth to the community.
The study found Yorktown's population was more family centric, better educated, higher income and more heavily employed than other ECI communities. And professional, education, and management sectors dominate the employment base.
Hicks also found median income much higher in Yorktown at $69,500 compared to $37,208 in Delaware County. And unemployment in Yorktown is lower at 6.8 percent compared to the countywide rate at 8.5 percent.
Given those statistics, Hicks said Yorktown does not have the problem of too few jobs, a poor quality workforce or a risk to growing employer base.
But some impediments to growth includes residential infrastructure limits like utilities and roads and a slow improvement to quality of place.
Housing stock also seems in short supply, said Hicks , while poor county government fiscal management limits available tax revenue. Some of Yorktown is still rural and served by county law enforcement and county highway department.
Some citizens pointed out other issues impacting the town.
Debbie Bigler said her sons graduated from Yorktown but went to Indianapolis for jobs. The lack of employment is still causing local high school graduates to find opportunity elsewhere.
And Mike Blanch was concerned that higher taxes could impact job growth and business expansion.
Yorktown is seeing some industrial growth at Park One with more hiring at Mursix in its auto division. Company officials recent talked about adding more than 90 workers.
Hicks still believed the more stable job growth would come from higher education and health care, although Indiana University Health Ball Memorial Hospital announced more than 100 layoffs last week.
And the economist did not mention improvements at the industrial park, including utilities and a rail line that could mean more growth. There's also plans for a $400 million reservoir near Mounds Park in Madison County near Chesterfield and Daleville.
That industrial park is located off Interstate 69 at Ind. 332 that is a major transportation route through eastern Indian and is lined with businesses, warehouses and industries between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, including Yorktown, Daleville and Chesterfield in Delaware County.