Michiana Event Center Adds to Shipshewana’s Tourism Industry, Quality of Life
Investments in Rural Communities Critical to Regional Growth
Sometimes small numbers can often fail to justify great accomplishments. Shipshewana, in LaGrange County is a prime example of this statement.
The town itself would barely make most maps. With an estimated population of 703, Shipshewana has actually grown dramatically during a time when many Indiana small towns are shrinking. Since 2000, the population has grown from 536 to 703, approaching an impressive annual growth rate of 2 percent annually. Yet despite these small numbers it is consistently among Indiana’s top-five visited tourist attractions and receives over a million visitors annually.
Shipshewana is best known as a center for Indiana’s Amish population, and top events include Amish furniture and food, auctions and flea markets and equine-related events. The town regularly grows from 700 to 20,000 on a busy summer Saturday.
The Michiana Event Center (MEC) is the newest addition to this tourism-industry powerhouse. A fixture for more than five years in the Howe are of LaGrange County, the MEC has become known as a center for shows, concerts and auctions.
Conservative projections show the visitor numbers for the MEC increasingly rapidly; 191,000 in the first year, 335,000 in the second year and more than 435,000 in the third year. Advance bookings and inquiries indicate that these assumptions will be greatly exceeded.
Bringing these attendees into the local economy will strengthen existing tourism assets and create more multi-day visitors. Some experts even predict that the MEC could double tourism numbers for Shipshewana.
So how is this project regionally transformative?
To begin with, the project is enormous in terms of economic impact. Northeast Indiana is one of the top three centers nationally for Amish population.
As part of a unique faith- and lifestyle-based heritage, the Amish are an important part of our tourism industry. Tourism in LaGrange County, largely based around the Amish, has an annual impact of $137 million. Increasing the ability of Shipshewana to host larger events and increase the number of days that such events can be help increases the economic impact. The influx of visitors has population increase and in increased brand awareness for Northeast Indiana.
Recent studies by Development Counsellors International (DCI) show that 76 percent of people form their impression of a community by first-hand experience.
Bringing hundreds of thousands more people to our region helps us strengthen our national brand and reinforces population growth efforts. Projects like the MEC, the Fort Wayne Riverfront, the Clyde, the DeKalb YMCA, the Kendallville Outdoor Recreation Center and our trails tend to bring people into the region for quality of life events and amenities.
Northeast Indiana is on the Road to One Million in an effort to fulfill one of our three Vision 2030 goals to increase regional population to one million residents by 2030. Projects like the MEC are critical to attracting talent to live and work in Northeast Indiana.