If you’ve seen any Chicago media (and if you live in Northwest Indiana and have a TV, you likely have), you probably noticed that Illinois has had a difficult time over the last several years. The state has massive debt. Income, corporate and property taxes are high. Half of the state’s residents wish they could move to another state.
And many are. Some relocate to other parts of the country entirely, for better business climates or industry hubs. However, some who are just looking for a more affordable dwelling come to Indiana.
As a whole, population trends aren’t exactly skyrocketing (Lake County’s total population has actually dropped since 2010, while Porter County has remained roughly the same). Individual towns, however, have seen a steady rise in their populations since the turn of this century. For some towns—St. John and Crown Point, to name a few—U.S. Census Bureau data shows a small spike in 2010, the year Illinois signed all its high taxes into law. Correlation isn’t always causation. But it’s hard not to make a connection, especially with new housing developments going up in seemingly every empty piece of land.
But Indiana isn’t stopping with just attracting new residents. If you’ve driven on I-94 near the stateline, you might have also seen billboards or other ads trying to lure local businesses across the state line (“Illinoyed” is one of the higher profile campaigns). The state is especially touting its much lower corporate tax rate.
Businesses certainly are leaving Illinois in its current climate, but it’s hard to say how effective Indiana’s efforts have been. Many have moved out of the Midwest altogether. Most of what Indiana has successfully drawn have been smaller local businesses seeking a lower operating cost just across the state line, while not straying far from their Illinois customer base.
That arguably puts Indiana entrepreneurs at an advantage. If the business climate is as good as the State claims, good enough that businesses should move here, then surely a homegrown one can get off the ground. And all those Illinois expatriates coming to live here just means more customers.