Public meetings to look at population decline

By Mandy Underwood

The Community Foundation and Grow Wabash County will host two presentations on the population decline in Wabash County.

Research has shown a 5 percent population decrease in the county during the last nine years.

The public presentations will be Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the Honeywell Center, 275 W. Market St. Wabash, or Thursday, Aug. 22, at 5:30 p.m. at the Manchester Community Schools Administrative Building, 404 W. 9th St. North Manchester.

The presentation will be made by researcher Rachel E. Blakeman and her colleagues John Stafford, president of Make No Small Plan, Mark Becker of Becker Consulting, and Amanda Lopez, president of Transform Consulting group.
The discussion is mainly to inform the public on the research found, and how population decline will have effect on our communities in multiple areas including K-12 enrollment, declining consumer base for retailers and service providers, and a shrinking workforce.

“Population decline in Wabash County has been a real but almost invisible trend when factored against rising income, increasing households, and escalating property values. Just because it isn’t obvious, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening, and its potential for detrimental effects is not far off for Wabash County,” said Rachel E. Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Since 1980, the population of Wabash County has been steadily declining and has decreased 5 percent since 2010. In the 11-county northeast Indiana region, Wabash County is the only county with declining population.

“The presentation of this important research is only one of a multi-step process that the Community Foundation and our partner, Grow Wabash County, are taking in response to a leadership challenge from Lilly Endowment Inc., who encourages all Indiana counties to address the challenges and opportunities they face,” said Patty Grant, executive director of the Community Foundation.  “The endowment in October 2018 announced the seventh phase of its Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) initiative. Phase seven affords all Indiana communities the opportunity to submit a concept paper in 2020 for up to $5 million in funding to implement large scale initiative aimed at high priority quality of life challenges and opportunities.”

The presentation of this information is the first step in The Community foundations plan to learn about trends and provide opportunities for community voices to be heard in order for Wabash County’s challenges to be addressed.

“It is our sincere hope that Wabash County citizens will attend the presentation,” said Steve Hentgen, Community Foundation Board president. “The presentation provides something for everyone to learn and to consider.”

For more information regarding the meetings, contact the Community Foundation of Wabash County 260-982-4824, or Grow Wabash County 260-563-5258.


Posted on 2019 Aug 13