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LaGrange County scores high in health, low in community assets


Two studies released this week show a split picture for LaGrange County.

The first study, a County Health Ranking by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, ranks LaGrange County third in the state.

The second study released this week, an Indiana Community Asset Inventory and Ranking by Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research, grades communities on factors that “influence the quality of life and the economic conditions within each county,” graded LaGrange County low, with its health grade the only bright spot.

In the health rankings, LaGrange County finished behind only Hamilton and Boone counties. The study looked at a variety of factors, from mortality rates to various health benchmarks such as adult obesity, smoking, and more.

In some areas, LaGrange County scored low, as in the clinical care portion, that looked at uninsured, the ratio of primary care physicians to population – 1,772 to 1 compared to 889:1 for the state, screenings and preventable hospital stays.

The county also scored low on social and economic factors, which included unemployment, children in poverty, and social support, among others.

The county scored well in health factors, with lower than state average numbers on adult smoking, obesity, and drinking.

Asset inventory

On the other end, the county fared poorly on grades given by the Ball State study that looked at a handful of factors that it notes influence the quality of life for residents.

The report looked at: People, Education, Health, Government Impact and Economy, and Arts, Education and Recreation. The report gave the county a grade for each factor, with Health the only “A” on the list.

LaGrangeCountyreceived a “D+” grade in the People category which “considers the conditions of the people within a community.” This include population growth, poverty rate, unemployment rate, private foundations per capita and other nonprofit revenue per capita.

In Education, the county earned a “C.” The report noted that “when businesses consider an expansion or relocation, the education of a community’s workforce plays a key role.” Factors in this grade include the percentage of student passing ISTEP, education attainment (highest degree earned) and high school graduation rate.

In Health, the “A” grade considers “the well being of the human capital in a community. The healthier the workforce, the less expensive it is to insure.” This includes factors such as fertility rates, death rate, poor and fair health rates, motor vehicle death rates, cancer incidence rate, number of primary caregivers and access to healthy food.

For Government Impact and Economy, the county could only muster a “D,” the lowest grade for the county. This looks at how “government influences and economic conditions affect the likelihood that a business will settle in the county.” This includes looking at crime rate, effective tax rates, main street rate, and metropolitan development.

The county gets a “C” for Arts, Entertainment and Recreation. “Visitors and residents alike enjoy the quality of a place through its offerings in the arts, entertainment and recreation. These offerings are often private, that is, not owned by the county,” the report noted. This can include the number of marinas, fairgrounds, athletic fields, golf courses, accommodation and food services, as well as per capita personal income and average compensation per employee.

The county scored above average (no grade given) for changeable public amenities. This looks at parks, cultural sites, trails and beaches – things that can be created, expanded or downsized based on community needs.

It also scored just above average for static public amenities, things that cannot be changed easily to match the needs of a county, usually natural features.