A little over a year ago, a Newsweek.com study coined South Bend as a “dying city.”
Now according to an extensive Gallup poll, Michiana is ranked as the seventh most dissatisfying and 15th least optimistic American metropolitan area to live in.
"It was sort of a painful reminder to me of the difficulty we have of turning things around here,” CEO Jeff Rea of the Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County said.
Many believe the local economic fallout was the main catalyst to such poor placement in the poll, which found only 43.3% of local residents believe our area is improving. That figure puts Michiana in the company of cities like Flint, Mich., Rockford, Ill., and Syracuse, N.Y.
"Bendix is gone, Associates is gone, Wheelabrator is gone; all the heavy industry is gone. It seems like it has all gone to the south or to China,” longtime Clay Township resident Jim Schlobohm said.
And the financial turmoil has impacted personal health as well. The Gallup poll also found Michiana to be the fourth worst metro area nationwide for exercising frequently.
Of the 190 different cities polled, folks in our area were also the 15th least likely to consume enough produce to maintain a healthy diet.
"I hope at the end of this is, we overcome what people are saying about us. We weren't satisfied with what Newsweek said, with what the Wall Street Journal said, with what Gallup said, with what anybody said. Now we need to go out and prove to the rest of the world that this isn't the truth and that this is the kind of community you want to live in,” Rea added.
In order to provide context, NewsCenter 16 compared Michiana to other similar sized areas nearby.
Residents optimistic of metropolitan area:
Fort Wayne: 64.7%
Residents maintain healthy exercise regiment:
Fort Wayne: 49.2%
Residents consume fresh produce on a regular basis:
Fort Wayne: 53.2%
Gallup says it collected the data after phoning a random sample of 353,492 Americans last year.
If you’d like to read the entire Gallup poll for yourself, just click on the Big Red Bar.