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White-Picket-Fence Dreams? Consider This Midwestern Gem

Hoosier hospitality, excellent quality of life, and a bevy of amenities and job opportunities draw newcomers and former residents to East Central Indiana.

By Val Beerbower on July 26, 2021

Jeff Adkins

There’s good news for those who refuse to compromise their ambitions with white-picket-fence goals: East Central Indiana combines the upward mobility of an active workforce with the charm of an affordable, Midwestern lifestyle.

Health care, manufacturing and education are some of the largest industries in the region, and with employers such as IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, Nestlé, Ball State University, Reid Health and 3M here, the job opportunities are vast.

Did You Know?

There are more than 85 miles of trails to explore, including the longest rail-trail in the state, the 62-mile Cardinal Greenway.

In addition, East Central Indiana offers a high quality of life for those relocating to the area. Residents can take in more than 40 cultural assets sprinkled throughout the region, including theaters, museums, concert halls, symphonies, art galleries and more.

Many of the approximately 534,000 residents in the region are like Jennifer Jas, who returned home after an out-of-state hiatus, with her partner Cesar Gellido, while others share a similar story with Dr. Brittany and Jesse Merk, newcomers who thought they would spend only a few years here, but ended up putting down roots instead.

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Hoosier Hospitality Turns Newcomers into Longtimers

Brittany Merk’s career brought the couple to Richmond, IN. “Reid Hospital had a wonderful complex, and the anesthesia department was an excellent fit, as they had many younger physicians that welcomed us with open arms,” Brittany says.

While the couple wasn’t originally from the area, they felt the famous “Hoosier Hospitality” soon after their arrival.

“We were surprised by the community aspect of Richmond,” Jesse says. “Everyone we met was very accommodating, and we felt right at home in a short time. Being a small-business owner and real estate investor, I have found plenty of opportunities to grow my business in Richmond!”

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Making Quick Connections in Muncie, IN

Similarly, when it came time to follow his partner back to her hometown of Muncie, IN, Gellido was able to make connections and find a job.

“While at the downtown bike shop, I saw that GEA Architects was next door and thought how convenient it would be to be able to walk to work,” Gellido says. “Weeks later, Traci Lutton with the (Muncie-Delaware County) Economic Development Alliance connected me with GEA, and I’m grateful that I was invited to join the team in mid-March. I’ve only worked there for a few weeks, but I anticipate, being that it’s a small firm, that it will be a collaborative effort to complete projects.”

Jas says that although her family was scattered around the country for a few years, once her parents returned to the region, the pull of home became undeniable.

“My decision was an easy one: Move to Muncie. Spend time with my parents and relatives. Put down roots in a smaller town. Look for the good and contribute to it,” she says. “With the lower cost of living, save money and use it to travel to visit daughters, friends and clients.”

Both Jas and Gellido and the Merks say they faced some trepidation before their relocation that the region would lack in desirable amenities. They soon realized, though, they had nothing to fear. “I was surprised to find all the activities and events related to art, music, culture and learning,” Jas says. “Examples of art and creativity are everywhere – even on the traffic signal control boxes!”

Gellido had a similar reaction. “I was very happy to learn about the greenbelts, rails to trails and the pathways along the White River,” Gellido says. “I’m looking forward to exploring the nearby reservoir and maybe even learning to sail.”

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Jeff Adkins

Loving the Amenities in Richmond, IN

And as for the Merks, they have come to love quite a few entertainment attractions in the area.

“Some of our favorite aspects of Richmond are the wonderful bike trails and the great restaurants to choose from,” Jesse says. “We also are lucky to be members of Forest Hills Country Club, which allows our girls and us to have a wonderful place to play and socialize.”

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