Seeking A Small Town with Big City Amenities?
Consider Hartford City, IN, a place full of charm, thriving businesses and a great entrepreneurial spirit.
A city of just under 6,000 residents in East Central Indiana is making big strides in a small space.
Whether you are talking about its larger companies, entrepreneurs, quality of life or friendly neighborhoods, Hartford City, IN in Blackford County is on the move and carving its own unique flavor in the process.
Warren Brown, executive director of the Blackford County Economic Development Corp., is all too familiar with the appeal of the area. “It’s a place where people want to live and raise their kids,” he says.
Among the variables that make this community stand out is its small businesses.
According to Brown, residents make it a point to support their community by shopping locally. “We have three coffee shops,” he says. “People would say a place this size cannot support three coffee shops, yet we do, and they’re all thriving. We also have small restaurants that define the flavor of the city. Mom-and-pop joints always create that unique restaurant experience and dining no matter what rural community you live in.”
Sustaining Growth in Hartford City, IN
And thanks to funding from the state, local businesses have been able to weather the pandemic.
“Despite COVID-19, we’ve seen the ability for local entrepreneurs to sustain, though it’s not been easy,” he says. “We’ve applied for and received two funding opportunities through the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs. One is in the form of a grant, the other one in the form of a revolving loan. And we have applied for a third one to help them.”
Brown also credits the town’s economic vitality to growth and investment from larger corporations making commitments to the area. Maintaining and adding jobs is a boon to the region in more ways than one.
“We’re seeing throughout the nation a reduction in manufacturing jobs, but that’s not the case in Blackford County,” he says. “Steady employment allows people to continue to work, which means they can afford to shop. They continue to create pedestrian traffic, which means that these businesses can stay open, and they can keep growing. So, looking at the global picture, creating jobs creates quality of life.”
Focusing on Quality of Life
Other community priorities include addressing items related to early childhood education and analyzing the housing market.
“We’re going to just continue to tackle each one of these different silos of issues that would cause a town not to be able to grow and thrive,” Brown says.
The city already has great amenities such as the Wilderness Park, which is a must-visit for outdoor exploration with the family. The 50-acre park features a variety of fitness and nature trails, and a "Bark Park." The adjacent 4-acre Wilderness Prairie is a must-see for serene scenery.
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Competitive Wages in Hartford City, IN
Among the corporate citizens making its mark on Hartford City is 3M, a Fortune 500 company that makes a range of products, from office supplies to health care-related items.
The company’s presence in the community is impressive, especially when you consider the size and scope of its corporate brand.
“We have 22 different divisions within the company, and we’re supplying at least 15 of those divisions at any point in time,” says Plant Manager Paul Doron. “So, we really cut across the whole gamut of 3M products. Our tape is mostly used for protection, bonding, electronics and a number of different applications.”
On a local level, the 250,000-square-foot plant employs about 175 full-time workers who take home competitive pay. Plus, 3M has been a part of the community for 60 years, which Doron says means they’ve touched a few generations of families in Hartford City.
“Since November of 2020, we’ve increased our production headcount by about 10%. And we’re still continuing to add employees,” he says.
Externally, the company is equally as committed to making a difference in the community, as it supports various charitable causes, either financially or with product donations.
Small Business Enjoys Sweet Success
Speaking of support, Jessica Sharp, owner of Amazing Glaze bakery in Hartford City, can speak to the support she has received from her neighbors since opening in August 2020. And her business itself was created with the community in mind.
Sharp, who grew up in Hartford City, says she created Amazing Glaze as a way to give back to the community and use her culinary arts training. In less than a year, she’s already earned a reputation for her doughnuts and cake pops.
“Our doughnuts are made fresh every day from scratch,” she says. “We usually sell out by 10 a.m.”
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Leveraging the momentum she has built, Sharp plans to expand her menu with breakfast and lunch offerings as well as build a new location – just another example of how this small city is making waves (or in this case, doughnuts).
Want to learn more about the region surrounding Hartford City? Check out the new edition of Livability East Central Indiana.