Carmel, IN was Money.com’s #3 best place to live in 2018.
WalletHub ranks Carmel, IN in the top 1% of Best Small Cities In America.
Terre Haute , IN ranked in the bottom 25%.
The biggest difference between the 2 cities is INCOME.
Compare the Cities based on U.S. Census Bureau Data for 2013-2017
|Household Income||Per Capita Income||Persons in Poverty|
|Terre Haute, IN||$34,746||$19,263||26.0%|
Now is when most people stop reading and throw in the towel. These numbers would indicate that money is what makes or breaks a city. End of story.
Or is it?
Look at Bozeman, MT for example. WalletHub places Bozeman in the top 4% of Best Small Cities in America. Better than 96% of the 1200 U.S. cities with a population between 25,000 and 100,000 people.
|Household Income||Per Capita Income||Persons in Poverty|
|Terre Haute, IN||$34,746||$19,263||26.0|
Here is were the interesting part comes in. The Median household income in Bozeman, MT is $14,471 more a year than Terre Haute. So, one might jump to conclusions and say that the extra $14K a year is making Bozeman a Best Place to Live. Extra money in the pocket means happier residents all around.
Except for when you look at how much median housing expenses are. Then things even out a little bit.
|Housing expenses with mortgage|
|Terre Haute, IN||$849/month|
For a difference of….$9,276 a year MORE to pay for housing in Bozeman.
That means the difference in income left over after housing is $5,195 a year.
$5,195 per HOUSEHOLD to go from the bottom 24% to the top 4% in BEST SMALL CITIES IN AMERICA.
Well, that doesn’t seem like that much when you think of it that way. So, something else must be involved in this formula.
TRUE, there is.
The other factors that come into consideration are Education Rankings, Health Rankings, Quality of Life , and Safety.
Compare the Budget Released to Residents of Bozeman, MT. to the one given to the residents of Terre Haute. Transparency plays an important role. Which one of these budgets do you think the citizens of each community would better understand and support?
Public School funding is higher in Bozeman. Montana as a state spends over $1,000 more per student than Indiana. 50% of students attending Bozeman public high school take at least 1 AP (advance placement) course).
Another thing that Carmel, IN. and Bozeman, MT. have in common is One large unified high school. This may not seem like something that would contribute to a BEST CITY, but it is.
School spirit is alive and well in high schools across America. When communities have consolidated their resources into one central high school, that spirit spreads out into the community. The energy and ideas of a cities next generation have a collective voice. Positive changes can begin to take hold within a few short years with the simple act of consolidation. Old ways and old habits can fade into fond and beloved memories.
Gerstmeyer and Garfield consolidated to open Terre Haute North in 1971. Wiley and Honey Creek consolidated the same year and became Terre Haute South. Although many places got it right the first time around, Terre Haute’s poorly maintained high schools will require a fix much sooner than other communities. The opportunity to follow others example of how to do it right should be embraced.
Violent Crime Rate has been slightly higher in Bozeman, but property crimes have been lower. So, Bozeman scores a much better safety ranking of 582 vs Terre Haute with 1098.
The economy is expected to grow in Bozeman with nearly 3,000 MORE businesses filing a tax return with IRS in 2012 than in Terre Haute. The population of Bozeman, MT continues to grow, gaining more than 11,000 people in the past 10 years.
Quality of Life is the last factor that was taken into consideration. Everything from the number of coffee shops, bars, attractions, parks and department stores.
This is were Terre Haute has a huge opportunity. Bozeman, MT is close to nothing. Bozeman, MT. is in a cold, isolated place. It is hundreds of miles away from the major cities of Boise, ID (289 miles) and Denver, CO (504 miles)
Terre Haute is close to Indianapolis, Chicago, Evansville, Louisville, St. Louis, all Major cities. Terre Haute is at the Cross Roads of America, while Bozeman, MT is a hour and a half detour from Yellowstone National Park.
The Shining Beacon of Light on the Hill for Terre Haute the past several years has been the Vigo County Public Library. The library is one of the example setters for what Terre Haute could be. Built in 1979 the building is kept updated. The parking lot is paved and painted regularly. Simple and well maintained landscaping and lighting, curbs, and lawns reflect a smart use of resources. Inside the building is welcoming. Helpful staff focused on meeting the needs of everyone that walks in. The Library could give the civic leaders of the area a needed lesson on being frugal with tax dollars, providing a needed service that changes as the needs of the community change, and a diverse and well trained customer oriented staff. To serve the public. Not themselves.
Terre Haute should be ranked a much better Small City than Bozeman, MT. With the 4 colleges, a river that runs practically through downtown, the perfect balance of all 4 seasons, and it’s proximity to major cities. Terre Haute also has one of the largest number of parks per capita in the nation. However, the parks are under utilized as evident on the Terre Haute Parks Department Website. They have nothing scheduled for the entire year of 2019. A city with one of the highest number of parks per capita and this is what the website looks like:
The parks are maintained, and such a tremendous potential exists. Communities across America would love to have the park foot print that Terre Haute has. The potential was very well described in an article in the Tribune Star recently.
The separation between one the best cities in America and a bottom 25% city is just a few years away. Better leadership, some tough choices, and a United community will make it A New Day In Terre Haute.