Fort Wayne, South Bend, Warsaw, Elkhart
Dotted with lakes, trails, rivers, and with Lake Michigan’s stunning sand dunes and Chicago on its border, northern Indiana is a great place to enjoy four seasons. Cities like Fort Wayne and South Bend—home to the University of Notre Dame—are standout economic and cultural engines. But smaller towns like Warsaw, dubbed “Orthopedic Capital of the World”—and Elkhart, the “RV Capital of the World” are magnets for manufacturing-minded business majors. It’s a region with a low cost of living and lots of diversity.
Andrew Graman is sold on South Bend. “It’s a smaller town with everything you could ever need,” he said. For Graman that means big-time sports, a growing arts scene, a great young professional network and a diverse group of friends around his age.
Graman, 25, grew up in Bruceville, a small town near Vincennes in the southwest corner of the state. His pursuit of a degree in insurance and risk management landed him internships in Vincennes, Indianapolis and Phoenix, where he was offered a job. Interested in finding a position with a company he could stay with long term, Graman chose Gibson, a South Bend insurance firm whose CEO, an Indiana State grad, personally recruited him.
Torn between living in a bigger city and taking the job he wanted the most, Graman opted for the job as a senior client manager at Gibson, but he’s happy with South Bend, too.
Young Professionals Network South Bend is a draw. “YPN South Bend is really strong and diverse,” said Graman. Through Gibson, a big employer of millennials, and YPN he’s met a circle of friends who enjoy tailgating and Notre Dame football, and attending Notre Dame basketball and South Bend Cubs baseball games.
But there’s more than sports in South Bend. “Downtown South Bend has more of an artsy side than you’d expect,” said Graman, who is enjoying watching the city change and grow.
They Get It
“The Millennial generation is made of risk-takers, innovators, doers, and creators. We are a generation of young leaders just like you, and we are influencing the progress of Northeast Indiana. The Millennial Leaders Alliance (MLA) is a network of millennials, roughly between the ages 17-29, committed to developing a community of future leaders and together creating opportunities for action, growth, and regional pride. The MLA works to help the region maximize its potential and become an even greater place where people can thrive. If you want to take your career one step further or create positive change in your community then the MLA and Northeast Indiana is your place for advancement, growth, and powerful possibility.”—Jaclyn Goldsborough,
Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership
Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Lafayette, Kokomo, Muncie
Indianapolis may be the center of Indiana government, business, retail, the arts and culture, but there’s much more: The middle of the state is really tops when it comes to attracting jobs and talent to the region. Indianapolis and surrounding suburbs and nearby cities are nationally competitive when it comes to opportunities in life sciences (think Fortune 500 Eli Lilly and Co., Roche Diagnostics and Dow AgroSciences), advanced manufacturing (Allison Transmission, Rolls-Royce and hundreds of smaller operations) and information technology (Salesforce, Appirio, Mobi, Angie’s List, Interactive Intelligence). And if you’re thinking of continuing your education beyond your bachelor’s degree, you’ve got Purdue, Ball State and Anderson universities, IUPUI, IU-Kokomo, Rose-Hulman and the University of Indianapolis. Hop off the I-65, U.S. 31 and I-70 highways and you’ll find a wide swath of job and life opportunities.
They Get It
“Indy has gone from being a net exporter to a net importer of talent. Historically the supply of talented professionals graduating from Indiana colleges and universities has exceeded the local demand for that talent. The result was our best and brightest were easily lured to other geographies. In recent years that deficit has narrowed dramatically. The ever-increasing vibrancy, amenities, and cultural offerings of Indianapolis—coupled with the influx of companies moving their operations to (or opening offices in) Indianapolis, has driven an impressive net population gain of knowledge workers. In essence people are voting with their feet and Indianapolis is winning.”
— Kristian Andersen Partner, High Alpha / Founder, Studio Science
Sasha Bannister bypassed jobs in New York, St. Louis and Minneapolis when she graduated from Indiana University in 2012 with degrees in Spanish and communications. She decided to pursue a great opportunity in Indianapolis. Although she had some initial reluctance about staying in her hometown, Indy has exceeded expectations.
“I have a group of friends who are always willing to explore the city with me,” said Bannister, who has found plenty of other professionals her age who enjoy the city’s restaurant scene and it’s urban greenways. They’ve even started a book club.
Now settled into a renovated duplex she bought on the near eastside, Bannister enjoys her proximity to downtown and all it has to offer, the city’s relatively low cost of living and having old friends and family close by.
Professionally, the city has plenty to offer as well. Bannister, who scored a fellowship out of college that landed her a job at a local tech company, is now program manager for Nextech, a not-for-profit that encourages technology education and careers among K-12 students. The connections she’s developed through her fellowship, the jobs she’s held and becoming involved in young professional groups in Indianapolis have led to both close friendships and business contacts she thinks will help throughout her career.
Columbus, Bloomington, Crane, Evansville
Rolling hills, scenic landscapes—and there’s a lot more going on: Columbus is home to Cummins Inc., an international Fortune 500 company. The Bloomington area boasts Indiana University, the education, cultural and sports mecca with close ties to the technology, healthcare and research sectors. Medical device manufacturer Cook Group Inc. and nearby Crane, attract a highly educated workforce for cutting-edge industry. Manufacturing—which increasingly demands a higher-educated workforce for advanced technology—is big, too: General Motors recently announced millions in investments for its casting plant in Bedford, and SABIC in Mount Vernon and Berry Plastics in
Evansville have a global presence in plastics. Evansville, home to pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca and Old National Bank, is also pushing the career envelope in healthcare. The IU School of Medicine, Ivy Tech Community College, the University of Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville are working together to create a medical education powerhouse for healthcare professionals.
They Get It
“We’re continually working to make Evansville and the surrounding area a diverse, welcoming place to work, eat, drink, and experience life. We are putting our best game in place, because we know if we have the talent here, businesses will come. It’s all coming together at once, creating a lot of momentum. It’s really an exciting time.”—Greg Wathen, president and CEO of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana
Evansville is a land of opportunity for Merrill Harper.
The 27-year-old University of Evansville graduate looked for jobs in bigger cities but landed close to home as director of events for the Southwest Indiana Chamber.
From there she’s grown to appreciate all that life in a medium-sized city has to offer. “One of the great things about finding a job here is there are a lot of opportunities for young people to get connected quickly and at a high level. It’s easy to connect with decision makers, with people who have a lot of clout in the city,” Harper said.
That access means young professionals in Evansville can play a role in making sure the things that attract people to bigger cities like Indianapolis and Nashville are also happening in Evansville, Harper said.
Harper lives downtown and has become an advocate for initiatives that are transforming downtown Evansville for the better. From the city’s budding Haynie’s Corner arts district to a growing collection of rehabbed buildings that are attracting new residents and restaurants, Evansville has a new vibe that Merrill and her 20-something friends appreciate.
Evansville’s Tech-on-Tap meet-ups, which started in 2012, lure Harper and others who want to simultaneously network and spur innovation in the city. The Young Professionals Alliance is another opportunity for both social interaction and career networking.