By Cristopher McFall
I live in the City of Greenwood proper. I literally have nothing to gain by supporting the formation of the Town of Center Grove, yet because of the need I support fully it. Further, it is needed now.
I worked for the Indiana Department of Transportation for eight years and was involved in the recent Major Moves package of road improvements. One of my projects was to conduct an analysis of the economic impact an interstate brings to the surrounding area.
The study compared only counties with total populations under 60,000 (for an apples-to-apples comparison). It showed that the average median income in counties with interstate interchanges was 10.8% higher than the average median income of counties without interstate interchanges (see figure 1). The study further showed that interstate interchanges alone do not correlate to an increase in median income. Crawford County, for example, has multiple interchanges off I-64, yet it has one of the lowest median incomes in the State. What is needed to make an interstate exit pay off is a population over 10,000.
It makes sense. Any transportation artery coupled with an ample labor pool will attract businesses. Take away either – the highway or the people – and businesses stay away.
One can only imagine what will happen when I-69 pushes through northern Johnson County. Within the last 20 years, the area along SR-37 in the proposed Town of Center Grove area has seen Big-O Tire, CVS, Burger King, Marathon, Subway, McCarty Mulch and a new animal hospital arrive on the scene. The addition of an interstate through an area with an ample educated population will certainly attract larger industry: warehousing, hospital, big box stores, truck stops, strip malls, and who knows what else?
Some say that I-69 will not be completed in the Center Grove area for decades. The plan says otherwise, but even if it is delayed, the business will still come. Once the I-69 corridor from Bloomington to Evansville (already under construction) opens, traffic on SR-37 will swell to interstate proportions because trucks will begin using it (instead of the I-70/US-41 route) to get to Kentucky more quickly.
A talented labor pool is already in place. The traffic flow will certainly increase soon and business will follow. It is imperative for the Town of Center Grove to incorporate now so that zoning decisions concerning the I-69 corridor are made by the citizens of that area and not by County officials away in Franklin. The incorporation of the Town of Center Grove offers its citizenry the opportunity to prepare now to handle the explosive growth that is coming and to exercise some measure of control over it. Wait just a few more years to incorporate and Bargersville and Greenwood will snatch up the juicy parts of this corridor and leave the homes in Center Grove without a voice in zoning, and without a tax base. By making this move now, you will be ready when local control is needed most. Delay, and control of the Center Grove area will be lost forever.
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