Region offers innovators many resources for developing products, companies.
It’s in with the “knew” in East Central Indiana, with several local initiatives, organizations and venues in place to help entrepreneurs start, grow and thrive.
Entrepreneurship is more than just a buzzword, with studies showing that a growing number of millennials – and the generation younger than them – are less interested in depending on established companies for employment and more interested in forging their own paths by establishing their own business and building intellectual property.
To foster success among these entrepreneurs, East Central Indiana has several incubators, co-working spaces and maker spaces where innovators can find the resources, collaboration and technology they need to take their ideas from concept to reality.
Making Of a Maker Space
Another innovative facility, the Purdue Polytechnic Maker Space in Anderson, is located on the new $15 million Purdue Polytechnic Institute campus that opened for classes in January 2017. The campus is on W. Scatterfield Road where a former General Motors manufacturing plant once flourished.
“When the local GM Delco Remy and Inland Fisher Guide plants closed, their 76 abandoned acres eventually became a concrete wasteland, and now our campus sits on about 11 refurbished acres of that property,” says Corey Sharp, director of Purdue Polytechnic Anderson. “Also in our revitalizing neighborhood on Scatterfield Road are more high-tech companies, and Community Hospital Anderson is constructing an outpatient clinic. The city of Anderson is showing how a community can come back to life after a major company leaves.”
The Purdue Polytechnic Anderson campus has classroom space for students majoring in various technology degrees, while the Maker Space functions as a learn-by-doing lab for students and a place for community entrepreneurs to use the school’s 3D printers, fabrication equipment, welding equipment, laser cutters, lathes, mills and many other tools connected to manufacturing.
“Meanwhile, Flagship Enterprise Center in Anderson is a regional incubator whose primary focus is advancing economic development, and they are a key backer of our Maker Space effort and own the building that houses Purdue Polytechnic Anderson,” Sharp says. “Another part of our building is used to lease space to private tech companies that are established and want to advance, and we already have three company tenants. Purdue Polytechnic looks to play a major role in training a future workforce that can fill advanced manufacturing, engineering, computer technology and other high tech careers that are currently moving back to Anderson and East Central Indiana.”
In Your Business
Meanwhile, Indiana University East in Richmond offers creative thinkers its Center for Entrepreneurship at Indiana University East, which offers students in all disciplines the opportunity to develop and enhance entrepreneurial skills. IU East even offers a minor in entrepreneurship that involves a six-course series to prepare students to launch their own businesses.
“The Center has enjoyed success and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016,” says Tim Scales, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at IU East. “Besides the classroom aspect, we link entrepreneurs to local company mentors, internships, economic development organizations and faculty members who are experts in different business specialties.”
Scales even hosts a public access TV show called In Your Business that provides advice and also interviews area entrepreneurs.
“At IU East, we do whatever we can to encourage and assist innovators,” he says. “The center helps equip creative students with the resources and implementation plans they need to achieve success in today’s and tomorrow’s business world.”
Among these idea-fostering organizations and facilities are The Refinery Business Center in Marion; Madjax Maker Force, The CO:LAB, Innovation Connector Landing Zone and Ball State University Entrepreneurship Center, all in Muncie; Vesuvius Coworking in Anderson; and The Innovation Center in Richmond.