Will a New Tech Park Succeed in Bloomington?
While Santa Clara County, California may hold the top spot for best performing city for high-tech employment, according to the Milken Institute, smaller cities are also vying for top contender rights. Among them is Bloomington, Indiana, which currently occupies the number spot for small cities on Milken Institute's index.
The tech sector in Bloomington is on the rise as the city continues to gain visibility. With the growth of the tech sector comes an expansion in the commercial real estate sector, as an increasing number of people begin to search for housing in the downtown area where they can both live and work.
In 2011, the City of Indiana purchased a 12-acre property situated within a state-designated tech park at a cost of $9 million from Indiana University. Since the city is the owner of the property, it maintains final control over any development projects that take place within that 12-acre sector. Recently, the city has expressed interest in developing high-tech projects along with residential units to meeting the growing demand tech professionals.
Rapid Growth on the Horizon for Bloomington Tech Park
Based on the city's current pace, Bloomington could be set to see more than 600 new positions added to the local tech sector. The city certainly has a lot of benefits to offer new transplants who are considering moving to Bloomington to take advantage of those open tech positions, including lower cost-of-living expenses and a small-town feeling that lends itself well to networking.
After purchasing the 12-acre site, the city reached out to the Rocky Mountain Institute for assistance with developing a vision for the new technology park. The city has stated that it expects construction could possibly begin by 2016 on infrastructure improvements previously outlined in the Certified Technology Park's master plan. Residents of Blooming may notice some changes as early as this spring, as the city begins demolishing the former Indiana University Food Services building. The decision has also been made to remove the old IU Printing Services building.
The Basis Behind the Tech Park in Bloomington
Certified Technology Parks are designated by the state of Indiana to communities that partner with research institutions along with meeting certain other criteria. With designation as a Certified Technology Park, the community of Bloomington will be able to capture up to as much as $5 million in tax revenue, funds that can then be invested in park development.
While the city and the University have made significant strides in positioning the tech park for success, concerns remain regarding whether it will be enough to sustain the park over the long term. As downtown cores have become increasingly popular as tech hubs, particularly with the Millennial generation, cities face increasing competition as they attempt to attract top talent.
Bloomington certainly has a lot going for it, but limited office space and a lack of amenity-driven housing could prove to be the deciding factor regarding whether the tech park in Bloomington is able to succeed.