Muncie’s Response to Recent Economic Change: An Oral History

Presented by James Connolly, Warren Vander Hill, and Paul Mitchell
Center for Middletown Studies – Ball State University

Kennedy Library
6:30 PM, October 27

On October 27, the Center for Middletown Studies and Muncie Public Library will present a talk on the history of local economic development efforts. The presentation is based on a series of interviews with local civic and business leaders involved in past and current efforts to address problems related to long term economic change in Muncie and Delaware County.

In recent years the issue of economic development has taken center stage in Muncie and Delaware County. The closing of the Chevrolet/New Venture Gear plant and the pending shutdown of the Borg Warner factory are but the latest blows to the area’s manufacturing base. The county’s leading employers are now a university, a medical complex, local government, and Wal-Mart. The result is a new universe of jobs. Few high-paying production-line jobs remain. Newly created positions in education and health care that pay well generally require a college or advanced degree and often attract people from other parts of the country or the world. Retail and other service jobs require less education but tend to pay considerably less than the unionized factory jobs that we have lost and do not offer the same chance to join the middle class. Local civic leaders, business people, and citizens now strive to respond creatively and effectively to these changes.

As the community embarks on new initiatives to deal with economic change and its consequences, it is worth taking a moment to review prior efforts in this area. Support from the Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County permitted the Center for Middletown Studies at Ball State University to interview political and business leaders involved in local economic development efforts and to compile them in an electronic archive. On October 27 at 6:30 PM in the Kennedy Branch of the Muncie Public Library, James Connolly, Director of the Center, and interviewers Warren Vander Hill and Paul Mitchell will present some of the findings from their research. We hope you can join us for a stimulating conversation about local economic development and some of the lessons we might draw from past experience as we move forward.

For more information, please contact the Center for Middletown Studies at 285-8037 or



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