“The Midwest is going through an identity crisis,” suggests Natasha Loder, Midwest correspondent for the British publication The Economist, “the lack of distinct identity and livability within the region is preventing it from attracting business.”
Loder, who has received several honors including an Outstanding Journalism Award from the Consultative Group on International Consultative Research, told a Monmmouth College Citizenship class this week that one reason behind the Midwest’s struggling economy was the region’s lack of branding and unique identity. She said that compared to other states, the Midwest lacked a “distinct identity” that can attract investors who could build infrastructure and boost the economy. States such as California, New York, and Hawaii have advertised themselves in a way that emphasizes their positive qualities that attracts business. Loder suggested that the Midwest needed to follow these states’ in order to begin revitalizing its economy.
Another way that the Midwest could improve its economy and infrastructure, Loder said, was by focusing on attracting outside investors instead of feuding over existing businesses within the region. She said that if the region could attract enough businesses, they would not need to argue over the few businesses that still remain within the region. Instead of spending money on billboards with statements like, “Are you Illinoyed by Taxes? Visit SolutionIndiana.com.” Loder argued that Indiana could have better used that money on projects that would have attracted international investors.
Loder also said that cities within the region needed to fund projects that would make the cities “more livable.” She argued that attracting investors isn’t enough. States and cities also need to be able to retain them in order to progress economically. Loder cited the city of Carmel, Indiana as an example of what she suggests should be done within the region. According to her, Carmel is in the process of funding community improvement projects such as building cycling paths and improving the appearance and maintenance of public parks and recreational areas. Loder suggests that these projects are building its infrastructure and giving the residents and businesses “a reason to stay in the area.” She reasoned that If more states were to make areas more “livable”, then people and businesses would be less likely to leave the region.
Loder lives in Chicago. She is a native of London, England and will return there when her three year tour in the U.S. is over.