Dispatch February 19th, 2021
Today marks the 8th straight year of Richmond, Indiana’s economic revival. Since the town leaders passed the now famous resolution in 2013 entitled “Starting Over,” the town and Wayne County as a whole has been on a remarkable growth spurt.
Unemployment and Crime Down Yet Again: New numbers astonishingly low!
Crime is at an all-time low and the unemployment rate is now a mere 1.1%. What’s more, our dirty industrial past is now fully behind us as we’ve come together to re-imagine a city based on green industry and an inviting cultural scene. The move to bring back our heritage as the “City of Roses” has indeed been one of the wisest of many great moves in the last 8 years.
Today, not only is Richmond the City of Roses, but also the city of modern growing industry for everything from flowers to organic foods. After the first hydroponics company decided to locate in Richmond in 2015, the area has become a boom town of green industry from modern farming to green energy tech and manufacturing.
We owe much of this positive change to citizens and officials finally coming together in 2013 to dream a future without the crippling restraints of our past. We owe today’s prosperity to a vision crafted out of a collective determination to create something new from bold ideas without regard for our typical responses to overbearing economic woes resulting from a broken local economy.
Born of a Not-So-Rosy Past
Today’s clean and prosperous Richmond was born out of one of the darker periods where drug use, crime, and unemployment ravaged the city.
If the visionaries of our community hadn’t started fresh by throwing away the broken templates of past economies, we likely wouldn’t be here today. If local leaders and community members hadn’t embraced a fresh approach to attracting modern businesses (while conducting a complete image makeover for the city) there’s no telling what kind of place Richmond could have devolved into.
Today’s Richmond and Wayne County…
Today we have a modern local economy built on sustainable industry that embraces the new thinking about how work is done, how livings are earned, how we educate our children, and how businesses can and do profit from balance, fairness, and prosperity shared by all the working people in the community.
The Formula For Success: A Bold Break With The Past
Once we stopped worrying about how to bring back a past based on dirty industry and unbalanced employment, and instead, looked forward to what could be if we were able to dream of a sustainable economic and cultural future, prosperity began to flow into the area.
Businesses who’d never been courted by Richmond and surrounding towns began to take a look at our area as a welcome place to settle down. The “new businesses” with high-tech jobs from clean energy to information services and computing. It was as if our change in attitude was palpable and made the community more inviting to the right industries than any tax breaks could possibly achieve.
One of The Big Breakthroughs
One of the reasons for our city’s change in direction began taking shape with articles like this one: ”Zappos’ culture coach: how ‘squishy’ stuff like culture took us to a billion dollars in revenue.” -Venturebeat.com
Key Richmond visionaries saw that much more was needed to attract these new kinds of companies to our area. Tax breaks would never cut it. We had to sell Richmond’s culture and thriving community plans and give these businesses a place where their ideal employees would be happy, fulfilled, and energized outside of the workplace.
As it turned out, the right kinds of businesses (built to thrive in our modern economy) just needed a welcoming and “cool” place to locate, after all. The new green and high-tech businesses that were dominating in the market were going more and more toward the Zappos model of elevating culture (both business and community culture) to its rightful place of importance.
It was then that Richmond community members realized that we must do the same. Or we could expect more of the same from the “doom bubble” we were living in at the time.
Continuing our growth over the years to include an expanding and well-supported artist community has led to building the kind of place modern businesses with well-paying jobs want to be a part of. Just as importantly, restricting the types of businesses we welcomed to the area further defined Richmond as a key place to locate for growing companies who needed much more than a place that offered tax incentives.
Hindsight is always 20-20.
Looking back at the dedication and foresight of our community in 2013, it is hard to imagine just how hard it must have been to throw out everything we knew about running a town in the old ways and start over with a clean slate. A new vision.
- “Would it work?”
- “Is this a mistake? “
- “Shouldn’t we just keep trying to tweak and scrap together a community from the bones of the past?”
These and many other questions were asked by and of everyone. Until, one day, it seemed the community had collectively gotten the picture at the same time: ”If we don’t dream bigger, we’re never going to rebuild a thriving, balanced community.”
There are moments in Richmond history where the community has come together in big, impactful ways. And the last time it happened resulted in the good times we’re currently enjoying today. A happy, healthy, sustainable, tuned-in modern community.
Thanks From The Future
We’d like to thank all those community members and leaders for thinking boldly about the future without being encumbered by the past.
2013 will always be a remarkable year in this city’s history.
A time when we threw out the old play book and fully embraced the idea of Richmond taking its rightful place in the new information and green economy. A time when we saw what the future held for American cities like ours, if only we’d embrace bold vision. And a time when our beautiful city decided to steer ourselves away from the old ways of local industrial economies and toward a far more enlightened and prosperous future.
Breaking News: Richmond Welcomes A New Google Data Center!
The editors of Go Wayne County would like to welcome our newest member of the Richmond business community, Google, for breaking ground on a new data center, powered once again, completely by renewable energy.
That’s another 243 new tech jobs for Richmond in a long line of successful growth during the last 8 years!
Note: This article is only one possible article that could be written about Richmond out of many, good or bad, possibilities. We’d like to think we can make this kind of news a reality in Richmond’s future.