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Ann Arbor vs. West Lafayette, IN – How Do We Compare?

November 3, 2023 Regional Updates

Game 9: Saturday, November 4, 2023 | Michigan vs. Purdue | Michigan Stadium | 7:30 PM EST

Ann Arbor SPARK’s popular football blog series is back for Michigan’s 144th season! We use the football season as an opportunity to compare Ann Arbor to cities around the country represented by our U-M football competition. The question is always – how does Ann Arbor compare to other college towns in the U.S.?

The Wolverines are ready to roll again after a refreshing bye week. This Saturday, Michigan hosts Purdue under the new lights at the Big House in the 76th matchup between the Wolverines and the Boilermakers. The Wolverines are entering this game with an impressive record, having won the last 5 matchups against Purdue. Michigan, currently ranked No. 3, is undefeated this season with a record of 8-0. They have their eyes set on continuing this winning streak. 

Moving on to how our two regions compare, we’re taking a look at the home of the Purdue Boilermakers, West Lafayette, Indiana.

West Lafayette is about a third the size of Ann Arbor in terms of population, but Tippecanoe County, as a whole, is very similar in size. Interestingly, Purdue’s enrollment is larger than the total population of the town. Purdue has just over 51,000 students enrolled while West Lafayette only has 45,060 residents. Both areas benefit from high educational attainment (more than 72 percent of the population in both areas possesses at least a bachelor’s degree). Both regions have a low unemployment rate (3.5 percent in Ann Arbor and 3.0 percent in West Lafayette). The cost of living in Lafayette is lower than in Ann Arbor (92.2 and 99.9, respectively).

The spirit of innovation is deeply rooted in both communities. Similar to Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex, West Lafayette and Purdue University have collaboratively built the 650-acre Purdue Research Park. Established in 1961, it is home to more than 100 high-tech companies with 2,500 employees and offers state-of-the-art communications infrastructure, research facilities, a business incubation complex to help startup firms, and scenic walking trails and lakes. It is billed as “the largest university-affiliated incubation complex in the country” and the research park uses the slogan, “the idea economy is here.”

Fun fact: Tippecanoe is pronounced ti·puh·kuh·noo and guarantees a smile if you say it out loud. According to Indiana Connection, Tippecanoe is easily the most poetic and fun-to-say county in the state of Indiana, but its meaning has nothing to do with capsizing a boat. Tippecanoe is the anglicized word for a Miami Indian term meaning “place of the succor fish people” — because succor (also known as buffalo fish) were abundant in the waters in the area.

Be on the lookout for our blog posts ahead of each game all season long and be sure to tag us when you share these interesting tidbits with your friends via social media! And, if you want more information like this or are curious to learn more about the Ann Arbor region and what makes it such a great place to live, work, and locate your business, please reach out to our Director of Research, Melissa Sheldon.

In case you missed it, here are links to the regional comparisons we’ve posted so far this year: 

Benchmarking the Ann Arbor Region: 2023 Economic Competitive Assessment

Game 1: Ann Arbor vs. Greenville, NC

Game 2: Ann Arbor vs. Las Vegas, NV

Game 3: Ann Arbor vs. Bowling Green, OH

Game 4: Ann Arbor vs. New Brunswick, NJ

Game 5: Ann Arbor vs. Lincoln, NE

Game 6: Ann Arbor vs. Minneapolis, MN

Game 7: Ann Arbor vs. Bloomington, IN

Game 8: Ann Arbor vs. East Lansing, MI