By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — According to a list assembled by 24/7 Wall Street and shared by USA Today last week, Jasper is the best Indiana city to call home. But Nancy Eckerle already knew that.
You might have, too.
“I don’t think anyone would be surprised at all because Jasper has such a great reputation of good people, good companies, good amenities, good hospitals [and] good schools,” said Eckerle, who is the executive director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce. “We’re known throughout the state. Although we’re a small town, I think we’re very well-respected throughout the state of Indiana, and I don’t think anyone would have been surprised to see that Jasper was at the top of those lists.”
In addition to representing Indiana on the 24/7 Wall Street List, Jasper was honored as the 2018 Community of the Year by the state’s chamber of commerce, and was recently ranked the 10th-best place to live in Indiana by homesnacks.net.
“Jasper is one of the most affordable places to live in Indiana,” the 24/7 Wall Street report reads. “The cost of living in the city is just 83.6 percent of what the typical American pays. The median household income in Jasper of $55,209 is higher than Indiana’s median of $50,433.”
It continues: “The combination of relatively high income and low costs, as compared to the rest of the state, makes Jasper residents more able to afford homes compared to those in most other areas of Indiana. The median home price in Jasper is $148,200, compared to Indiana’s median home price of $126,500.”
The report explained that Jasper residents are also much less likely to struggle financially than the average Hoosier. At 7.1 percent, the poverty rate in Jasper sits at less than half of the state’s rate, which is 15 percent.
Eckerle credited the success of the community with the local, “homegrown” companies that have invested in Jasper and provided good jobs and opportunities for people who live and work in the city.
“So that the people, then, can become involved in the community, and they can become involved in the schools and the churches and other opportunities where they can volunteer or just be a part of and good citizens of our community,” Eckerle said.
Jasper has become a place that blends small town values with the vision of a big city, she said. Companies and organizations stationed in the city reach Southern Indiana and far beyond, and some do business across the globe.
Eckerle also spoke of the high quality of Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center, the Greater Jasper School Corporation and area churches.
“We just have a lot of things that people are looking for, I think, when they’re looking for a place to call home,” Eckerle said.
But new Jasper mayor Dean Vonderheide said something else makes the city a great place to live.
“It’s the people,” he said. “You can have great roads and great companies and great infrastructure in many areas, but it’s the people.”