EDITORIAL: Time to get in on the Remote Revolution

May 13—As detailed in the Remote Revolution series recently published in The Herald Bulletin, some Indiana municipalities are recognizing the importance of attracting remote workers.

Anderson and other local communities should capitalize on our area's low cost-of-living and proximity to Indianapolis to join in the hunt.

That will take a paradigm shift — or at least the addition of a new strategy — for economic development officials.

In the past, it's been natural for most Midwestern communities, including those in Madison County, to focus on attracting employers, because workers would follow. For generations, that's been the fastest and most effective way of building the local tax base to fund infrastructure improvements and attract retailers and other commercial businesses.

But now, more and more workers are at liberty to live wherever they like, regardless of where their employer is based.

Consider the following from the Remote Revolution series:

—Nationally, 35% of all U.S. employees in 2022 had the chance to work remotely full time, according to a McKinsey and Company study. That's up from just over 5% in 2018.

—More than 20% of the 3.15 million Hoosiers who responded to a U.S. Census Bureau survey worked from home either full time or part time in April. That's more than the number of Hoosiers who reported working in manufacturing, agriculture, transportation and warehousing combined during the same period.

These numbers represent a seismic shift in where Americans, and Hoosiers, work. Far fewer are going to offices and factories. Far more are working from home.

Michael Hicks, an economics and business professor at Ball State, considers the shift to remote work to be the most revolutionary change in the state's economy since the Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800s.

To climb on board, some Indiana communities are using new measures to attract remote workers. The city of Greensburg, for example, is offering $5,000 to those who relocate there.

"It also has a program called Grandparents on Demand, where local residents volunteer to adopt a new remote-worker family, babysit their kids and attend events with them. Neighbors also reach out to invite new residents to semi-monthly dinner parties," reads a passage in the first part of the Remote Revolution series.

Greensburg is using MakeMyMove, an Indy-based online platform targeting remote workers in major cities. The pitch: You can bring your salary with you to Indiana, where it will go a lot further. Plus, this is a great place to live and raise a family away from the hustle and bustle of a big urban center.

That can be a winning pitch, as well, for communities across the Madison County area.