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Editorial: Small-town charm makes county middle-class gem


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If you consider yourself part of the middle class, Johnson County is a good place to live. While many of us have known this for years, it’s still nice to see it validated.

A recent survey by CNNMoney ranked Johnson County No. 1 out of eight counties on its list of “Where the Middle Class Does Best.” The ranking considered numerous factors, such as jobs, schools and proximity to grocery stores.

Johnson County’s closeness to Indianapolis landed it on the short list of counties. A county had to be within 20 miles of a large city and have a population of 10,000 or more to be considered for the rankings. The median household income had to be close to the national average, and the county had to be below the national average in unemployment, poverty and inequality levels.

Johnson County’s 5.3 percent unemployment rate is below the 6.7 percent national level. The local household median income is $60,835, which is nearly $12,000 more than the national average.

CNN highlighted the county’s diverse economy as a reason for its selection. Greenwood’s retail and dining options and Franklin’s manufacturing industry were noted in the story.

“I think we do have diversity and a number of vibrant communities that play off the benefits of one another,” said Cheryl Morphew, president of the Johnson County Development Corp. “You may look at other counties and see the strong presence of one city, and that’s it.”

Johnson County Commissioner Ron West said, “This is great exposure for the county; but more importantly, it demonstrates what we’ve been saying for a long time: Johnson County is a great place to live.”

Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness pointed out one of the strengths of Johnson County communities when he said, “I think we have small-town charm in a thriving community that continues to grow.”

But while the ranking can be used in marketing materials to businesses considering relocating to the area, in the long run we should strive to maintain and improve the quality of life here.

West said it well: “The best thing we can do is not convince the rest of the world this is the best place to live but improve on those things, and people will notice. Just like CNN did.”

That’s the best advice of all. We can celebrate the recognition, but our long-term goal always should be to become not another Carmel, Fishers or Zionsville, but the best we can be.

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