With support from the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission, the City of Bloomington, together with the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC), submitted an application on Monday, September 28 for federal funds to support the establishment of a technology center in the downtown Trades District, the city’s Certified Technology Park (CTP).
The proposed Trades District Technology Center, to be located on a site at the southwest corner of the intersection of Madison Street and Maker Way, would support regional employment growth and economic development in the emerging technology sector as the city rebuilds from the COVID-19 downturn. The application seeks approximately $5.9 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) within the US Department of Commerce. At their meeting Monday, September 21, the RDC committed to matching the federal contribution with a $1.9 million pledge, representing 25% of the total cost of the project (around $7.8 million).
This step is part of a long-term redevelopment strategy to transform an early 20th century manufacturing district into a center for innovation. The strategy has advanced through the CTP designation in 2005, continued with the establishment of the CTP Master Plan and Redevelopment Strategy in 2013, and continued with the establishment of an Opportunity Zone and The Mill in the Trades District in 2018.
“Creating a hub to consolidate and amplify the potential in Bloomington’s tech sector would be a dynamic next step,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “From the start-ups at the Mill to our flourishing bio-manufacturing industry to the resources at IU and Crane, we see strong momentum in the tech sector that will be essential to our community’s rebounding.”
The Trades District Technology Center would create a hub for technology companies that are beyond the startup phase, with services and space for both growing and mature firms. In addition to a mix of small- to medium-sized tenant office spaces, the proposed three-story, 29,250-square foot building could include shared amenities and convening spaces for tenants, local tech companies, and industry-related partners. The land and the building would be owned by the RDC and operated by the Trades District Technology Center, Inc., a nonprofit that has been established to provide commercialization services to local tech companies, facilitate connections between companies and resources, and manage the facility.
“Ultimately, the Trades District Technology Center project aims to connect local tech companies to regional, national, and international partners and resources,” said Jennifer Pearl, president of the BEDC. “Local economic development studies have shown the need to grow and diversify our community’s base of high-quality employment opportunities, while retaining and attracting talent. By helping post-startup tech firms to grow, this project will also help advance the region.”
The City and the BEDC have partnered with the following entities in the preparation of this proposal:
Numerous other partners contributed to the development of the application including local tech companies, Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington, business and economic development organizations, and government representatives.
The EDA reviews applications on a rolling basis with a response expected within a few months. Regardless of the outcome of the grant request, the research and development undertaken during the application process has demonstrated a strong need for a tech commercialization center in Bloomington and a desire from tech companies to build upon their connections.
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