November 2016: South Bend – Elkhart Region Update



The Board of the Regional Development Authority (RDA) for the South Bend-Elkhart region in North Central Indiana has selected three additional projects to be submitted to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) for funding approval. The three quality of place projects will promote technology training, increase health and wellness opportunities, and support the revitalization of historic buildings in the South Bend-Elkhart region.

Apex Climbing South Bend

  • Total Project Investment: $3,765,000
    North Central RDA Funds Allocated: $400,000

Technology Training & Demonstration Center

  • Total Project Investment: $2,670,665
    North Central RDA Funds Allocated: $507,000

The 500 Building

  • Total Project Investment: $9,188,673
    North Central RDA Funds Allocated: $900,000

The RDA is pleased to allocate Regional Cities funding toward these projects, each of which is strongly aligned with our region’s goal of creating and sustaining Smart Connected Communities. With this allocation, eighteen projects have been slated to receive a portion of the $42 MM secured for our region through the Regional Cities Initiative. All eighteen projects that have received an allocation from the RDA must have final submissions, including IEDC approval and full commitment for all matching funds completed by June 15, 2017.


This past month, Michiana Partnership had the opportunity to share our regional success story even further in New York City and in Atlanta.

Regina Emberton represented the South Bend – Elkhart region at the Society of Industrial & Office Realtors (SIOR) fall meetings in New York City. Regina’s background in commercial real estate and her SIOR and CCIM designations offer our region a unique opportunity to connect with the top commercial real estate professionals from across the nation as they meet each spring and fall to increase their professionalism and enhance their business networks. During October, Regina was in New York City attending the SIOR conference with 1,200 real estate professionals and in Atlanta at the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) association annual conference.

Due to Indiana’s focus on quality of place investment, this is of great interest to the corporate executives and site consultants we are meeting with. They recognize this as a creative approach to talent retention and attraction, which is a top consideration in their site expansion and relocation decisions. The IEDC also exhibited at the SIOR conference in New York, providing additional exposure about the benefits of doing business in Indiana.


Last week, the Regional Development Authority and Michiana Partnership hosted a Regional Opportunities Forum at the Lerner Theater in Elkhart. This forum was a wonderful opportunity for elected officials and leaders from our higher education institutions, business community, foundations and economic development organizations to connect with each other and learn more about the following activities:

  • John Affleck-Graves, RDA Chair welcomed the group and commented on the progress of collaboration across the region
  • Regina Emberton of Michiana Partnership provided a status update on the Regional Cities Initiative
  • Pete McCown, Chair of the Regional Economic Development Strategy Team presented a summary their work to date and proposed next steps
  • Larry Garatoni, Chair of the Entrepreneurship Committee updated the group on their activities, including the new regional partnership with Elevate Ventures

This Forum demonstrated the great enthusiasm and regional collaboration occurring here in the South Bend – Elkhart region.


In 2016, the RDA appointed a 19-member Entrepreneurship Committee whose mission is to promote and foster the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the South Bend-Elkhart Region by stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit and culture in our citizens, identifying and nurturing new business startups and supporting the growth of existing high potential businesses.

The RDA established the Entrepreneurship Board, to determine how to most effectively invest into entrepreneurial organizations, programs, initiatives, grants and sponsorships in the region and to assist Elevate Ventures, in an advisory capacity, with the identification and evaluation of qualified startup and early-stage companies to consider for the $1 million investment available.


Through a collaboration between Elevate Ventures and the Regional Development Authority for the South Bend-Elkhart region, civic, business and university representatives have raised funds to carry out this initiative, which will include a combination of entrepreneurial advisory services and venture capital. Investors from the region include: Judd Leighton Foundation, University of Notre Dame, Community Foundation of Elkhart County, IOI Payroll Services/Najeeb & Nancy Khan, Garatoni-Smith Family Foundation, Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, Graham Allen Partners, and Kem Krest.

Elevate Ventures has committed an additional 1.5 million on top of the funds raised in our region and could potentially invest more as new investment opportunities arise. The RDA appointed the entrepreneurship committee made up of 19 local leaders to manage the partnership and work with the entrepreneurship community to determine how the leveraged funds can have the most impact on supporting a robust startup community.

About Elevate Ventures

Established in 2011, Elevate Ventures exists to create sustainable cultures and infrastructure across Indiana that support the ongoing development and success of entrepreneurs. Our vision is to be regarded as a critical guide, resource and community catalyst for developing high-performing, high-growth, Indiana-based businesses.


Great Lakes Capital recently celebrated the opening of HeadQuarters at Ignition Park, a new co-working space for startups, developed businesses and divisions of national corporations looking for collaborative and innovative work space. Indiana Economic Development Corp (IEDC) President, Jim Schellinger spent the day in the region and attended the grand opening as well. “We have found that in order to have a vibrant community you need an ecosystem that supports innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Schellinger.” Places like Igntion Park offering co-working space are the places that are going to attract and retain talent. The millennials are going to pick where they want to live first, and then they are going to pick where they want to work.”

HeadQuarters is located within Catalyst I at Ignition Park, located within the Innovation District a burgeoning tech hub in downtown South Bend. The co-working space includes more than 8,800 square feet and has an open area for co-working with private phone booths, a café lounge, private offices, small and large meeting rooms and dedicated desk spaces. Members will have access to high quality printers, premium coffee and high-speed internet, as well as community events hosted in the space that will revolve around networking, business growth strategies, leadership workshops, panel discussions, happy hours and tech talks. Data Realty, Aunalytics and Microintegration are high-growth businesses also located in the building. The facility, located in the heart of the former Studebaker facilities, now offers a place for the convergence of capital, technology, and research and development.


In early 2016, the Northern Indiana Regional Development Authority invited 15 leaders from the three counties to work together to develop underlying principles for a regional development plan. The group gathered regularly for eight months to discuss how to improve as a region and which areas need the most attention.

Following these discussions, Karl King, retired partner with Crowe Horwath LLC, drafted “A Plan for Prosperity, Growth and Inclusion Version 1.0.” The 90-page report outlines in detail the data points for the region compared to benchmarks from peer regions, including Appleton, WI; Cedar Rapids, IA; Lancaster, PA; Wichita, KS; and York, PA.


We are celebrating a milestone with the allocation of our $42 Million regional cities award into 18 projects which will enhance the quality of life so that vibrant businesses and their employees will want to remain or relocate here. Our creative approach to talent retention and attraction through a focus on developing these amenities is a national model. But we know that there is much more that we can do as a region to enhance our position as a region of Smart Connected Communities.

The work of Karl King and the Regional Economic Development Strategy Team provided a data-driven analysis of our economic situation and identified five key focus areas that are critical to our future economic success. We are now developing a robust action plan to support existing initiatives and identify additional opportunities to advance our regional efforts around Industry, Talent, Workforce, Entrepreneurship and Inclusion.

We have a unique opportunity to chart the course of our future; to grow the economy by improving wages and livability. We live in a knowledge-driven, highly connected region that serves and provides access to a global innovation economy.
With the passionate leadership, regional collaboration and high level of engagement we are experiencing, there is no doubt that we are poised for recognition of our world-class higher education opportunities, superior access and connectivity and high performing communities. South Bend-Elkhart is truly a region of Smart Connected Communities.

Thank you for getting involved, believing in our future and being a part of bringing it to fruition.


Regina Emberton
President & CEO
Michiana Partnership