What do the Strand Theatre, Parkview Noble Hospital, the Kendallville Public Library and Noble Trails have in common?
Starring, supporting and behind the scenes roles in Kendallville’s ranking as the 33rd best city in the U.S. to live in.
Kendallville was the only city in Indiana to make “America’s 50 Best Cities to Live” published Jan. 13 by 24/7 Wall St., a website focused on gathering and analyzing data to be published by MSN MarketWatch, USAToday, AOL and other news media.
To determine the nation’s top 50 cities to live in, researchers from 24/7 Wall St. created a weighted index of 25 measures across four categories: affordability, economy, quality of life and community.
Only 27 states had cities in the top 50. California — with 10 cities on the list — was the “winner” for most top cities.
Then came Ohio, Texas and Colorado, each with three top 50 cities.
The researchers had guidelines to help increase geographic diversity.
Underneath a photograph of Kendallville’s Main Street — the block with the Strand Theatre — the article states:
33. Kendallville, Indiana
• Population: 9,522
• 5 yr. population change: -5.0%
• Median household income: $42,278
• 5 yr. avg. unemployment: 5.3%
Kendallville is a small city in northeastern Indiana. One reason Kendallville ranks among the best places to live is its affordability. Goods and services in the city are about 14.5% less expensive than they are nationwide on average. Housing is especially affordable. The typical home in Kendallville is worth 2.3 times as much as the city’s median household income. Meanwhile, the median home value across the country is 3.4 times higher than the median household income.
While Kendallville’s median household income of $42,278 is well below the national median of $60,293, area residents are less likely than most Americans to face serious financial hardship. Just 12.1% of Kendallville residents live below the poverty line compared to 14.1% of people nationwide.
Places with fewer than 8,000 residents were not included in the analysis.
Data came from sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Among the factors considered were:
• distance from the city center to the nearest hospital and hospital-based health care results
• crime rates
• movie theaters, libraries, dinner theaters, museums, parks and restaurants
The article states, “Local governments bear some degree of responsibility for neighborhood safety, economic vitality, the presence and condition of public spaces, and a wide range of other amenities and services that affect the daily lives of local residents.”
Kendallville Mayor SuzAnne Handshoe said she is thankful that an outsider sees what she sees every day. “I have family in Michigan that visit a few times a year,” she said, “and they are amazed at the housing prices, the Strand movie prices as well as how friendly and accommodating everyone here seems to be. We are a blessed community, that still has work to do.
“The Community Learning Center, the Kendallville Restorations Inc., Rotary and our various boards and commissions are all working hard to make Kendallville better.”
She said she feels “the energy and momentum” of what is yet to come.
“We are constantly bombarded by negative news,” said my longtime neighbor Debra Hockley.
Like Terry and me, Debra and David Hockley enjoy walking in Kendallville and nearby Bixler Lake Park. “It’s easy to fall into that pattern of negativity. The article made me stop and focus on the positive because there definitely is a lot to appreciate,” she said.
“Kendallville is full of caring people, with great schools, natural beauty and tranquility.”
The article said the list “favors areas with ... short commute times, walkability, reliable public transit, affordability, job availability, entertainment options, cultural attractions, low crime, and access to places like grocery stores and hospitals.
While household income was not itself a factor, many of the cities on the list are relatively wealthy.
For those who seek it, Kendallville and northeast Indiana have what it takes to be a great place to live.
If you can find housing.