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For more information, please contact

Cindy Frey
Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
812-379-4457 or

Pat East
Executive Director
Dimension Mill, Inc.

Bloomington and Columbus Announce $2.5 Million Partnership to Encourage New Business Growth and Boost Innovation Across the Region

Bloomington, Ind. - Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop have announced their cities’ entrance into a partnership designed to connect and amplify entrepreneurial activity and boost economic growth in both Indiana municipalities. The joint venture agreement, signed in September, links Dimension Mill, Inc. (The Mill) and the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc. as regional partners working toward obtaining funding from Elevate Ventures - a venture development organization based in Indianapolis - to encourage and develop coworking and entrepreneurship in early stage companies in Columbus and Bloomington.

“The affinities between Columbus and Bloomington have long been evident,” said Hamilton. “Forming this relationship will draw out parallels between our business communities, foster collaboration, and encourage broad investment. Elevate Ventures’ investment is a recognition of the potential of this partnership, and of the critical role that business development will play in the economic growth of both our cities.”

The mayors will meet in Bloomington to announce the partnership via Facebook Live Tuesday, October 16 at noon. Members of the public as well as the press will have the opportunity to ask questions via the live stream at the City of Bloomington’s Facebook page.  Joining the mayors in discussion will be Cindy Frey, president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, and Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill.

“Columbus is a top-ranked city known for technology-driven manufacturing, a skilled, global workforce, and a high concentration of engineering talent,” said Lienhoop. “Our city’s success has been the result of working collaboratively - within our own county and across our region. Working in tandem with Bloomington, we can fuel economic growth in southern Indiana.”

The regional partnership is in the process of raising $1 million with the goal of leveraging up to $1.5 million from Elevate Ventures. Upon reaching the fundraising goal, Elevate would not only support the partnership’s operations but also provide entrepreneurial expertise, host events for entrepreneurs and investors, provide a network of professional services and resources, and otherwise nurture startups and innovation in these cities.

Dimension Mill, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that will operate The Mill, the facility that will serve as the centerpiece of Bloomington’s Trades District and Certified Tech Park. Originally built in 1915 as part of the former Showers Brothers Furniture Company’s manufacturing complex, The Mill is undergoing renovation to serve as a community coworking space, business incubator, and innovation hub for the City of Bloomington. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony October 31, The Mill is slated to launch on November 15, 2018.

“This new partnership represents a promising step forward for both of our communities,” said Frey. “Bloomington and Columbus are cities with strong economies and complementary strengths that can learn from each other. It is our hope that the Elevate Ventures partnership is the first of many opportunities for our communities to work together to grow our region.”

“This joint venture is born of the shared spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that exists between the two cities,” said East. “Both our cities have highly educated workforces and low unemployment. Most new jobs in the ‘new economy’ are created by companies with fewer than five employees. We have full employment, so we don’t have ready workforces to convince large companies to move. To grow, we need to nurture ‘backpack and idea companies’ and our robust community of remote workers who are looking to stay and work here.”

Members of the public and the media are invited for the official launch of the partnership December 6 at 5:00 p.m. at Big Woods at Hard Truth Hills in Nashville, Ind.  The joint venture will be overseen by a joint committee consisting of two representatives each from Bloomington and Columbus, and one from Elevate Ventures.