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Bloomington, Columbus Partner To Spur Regional Economy

Renovations of Dimension Mills are expected to be complete this month. (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)

The mayors of Columbus and Bloomington are partnering to spur economic development across south central Indiana. 

Columbus’ Jim Lienhoop joined Bloomington’s John Hamilton on Facebook Live Tuesday at City Hall to talk about the joint venture.

Lienhoop says the two cities complement each other in a way that could bolster high-tech startups.

“Given the proximities of our communities, and the notion that we have very complimentary economies and complimentary communities in many ways, it just makes sense for us to try and partner,” Lienhoop says.

The cities are raising $1 million with the goal of leveraging up to $1.5 million from Indianapolis development organization Elevate Ventures. Hamilton says they will help develop co-working and entrepreneurship opportunities.

“We’ll be sharing the revenue, we’ll be sharing the Entrepreneur in Residence who’s kind of a mentor, it’s a three year agreement and I really look forward to our communities collaborating more closely,” Hamilton says.

Just next door, Dimension Mill is preparing for an October 31st ribbon cutting ceremony. The Trades District is a 12-acre portion of Bloomington’s downtown certified Technology Park.

The Entrepreneur in Residence will spend half of their time there and the other half with the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.

Lienhoop says for the past two years his city and Bloomington have been looking for opportunities to collaborate.

“Our economy in Columbus has been very manufacturing based for the last 50 to 60 years and we’re convinced that manufacturing will continue for some time, I mean, it’s not going away any time soon," Lienhoop says. "But there will be a high-tech component to this.”

Lienhoop says supporting multiple business start-ups with up to five employees is something they can manage. It’s his hope a few of those will eventually grow to become a 200 employer business.

The official launch of the partnership is scheduled for December 6.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop (Joe Hren, WFIU/WTIU News)


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