Bloomington Economic Development Corporation president Ron Walker says manufacturing continues to play a surprisingly significant role in the Bloomington economy. That’s according to a new study commissioned by the BEDC from the Indiana Business Research Center. It’s the fourth such study the BEDC has commissioned since 2000. Walker says this study is different from those in previous years in that it holds Bloomington up against other cities that can be more accurately characterized as its peers, specifically, college communities with populations between 80 and 220 thousand, of which at least 20 percent are students. Walker says while manufacturing has declined sharply in the last 10 years, it remains relatively strong, particularly in the life sciences.
The IBRC study says that manufacturing jobs account for 12 percent of the workforce in Bloomington, which puts the city fourth among its national peers. Despite the strength of Bloomington’s life sciences industry, Walker says the wages Bloomington workers earn in that industry are much lower than in other cities. Walker says he hopes Bloomington’s manufacturing jobs in the life sciences will form a base on which more research and development jobs can be brought to the city. The IBRC study also indicates that Bloomington and Monroe County have the highest median home value in the state, and yet housing costs remain among the lowest of Bloomington’s peer communities nation-wide. The study compared Bloomington to cities such as Athens, Georgia, Champaign, Illinois, Morgantown, West Virginia, and Ann Arbor, Michigan.