Regional Cities Initiative Project Launched In South Bend

North Central Indiana recently broke ground on the Studebaker Factory Buildings redevelopment in South Bend, one of the region’s marquee projects outlined in its “Innovate Indiana” plan submitted for state funding through the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative.

South Bend
Gov. Mike Pence and Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb break ground alongside area leaders at the Studebaker Factory Buildings redevelopment.

The four-phase, $165.7 million project will anchor the establishment of South Bend’s Renaissance District and, once complete, is set to be the largest mixed-use technology campus in the Midwest. The adaptive reuse of the former Studebaker campus, which totals 1.1 million square feet of real estate on 30 acres, will create a concentrated hub for education and innovation with the potential to house more than 3,000 technology workers, serve more than 7,100 students in workforce development capacities, and facilitate nearly 800 internships each year.

“South Bend and the surrounding region have a rich heritage of innovation, starting with Clem and Henry Studebaker opening their first company here in the mid-1800s,” said Governor Mike Pence. “This bold project continues that trend, making old new again and creating an opportunity to advance entrepreneurship, education and workforce development in Indiana. The redevelopment of this mile-long campus will transform the North Central region, fueling innovation while attracting new business and top talent to the Hoosier state for years to come.”

A Bold Vision For The Future

Officials broke ground on renovations of Building 112 and Building 113, which will be transformed into a 220,000-square-foot space dedicated to entrepreneurship and STEM programming, housing multiple tenants specializing in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, technology, education and workforce development in addition to space for co-working and retail. The initial work will provide needed renovations and address infrastructure issues related to the historic site, which has remained largely vacant since Studebaker ceased auto production in South Bend in 1963.

“Our region has already benefited immensely from the collaboration required to develop a bold vision for the future,” said John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president of the University of Notre Dame and chair of the Northern Indiana RDA board. “The Renaissance District, including the renovation of historic Studebaker Building 113, was identified as a marquee project in that vision.  And today, we’re thrilled to be breaking ground at this historic site where the promise of innovation will once again be shared with our entire region. On behalf of the RDA, and the half million men, women and children we represent throughout Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties, thank you, congratulations, and let’s continue working together to support a growing, innovation-based economy that attracts more and more talented people to North Central Indiana.”

South Bend
An illustration shows what the former Studebaker assembly plant will look after the renovation.

By the end of 2016, building renovations will be complete and the first floor will be a fully-functioning innovation center, home to several entrepreneurial and technology ventures. Initial tenants, which will begin moving into the facility this summer, include:

  • CupPrint: An Ireland-based company that utilizes the latest technology to print customized paper cups in a quick and cost-effective way.
  • enFocus: A non-profit that partners with local businesses to create fellowship opportunities for recent graduates.
  • F Cubed (F3): Develops rapid, DNA-based molecular diagnostic devices and test kits used for environmental, food safety, medical diagnostics and oil and gas applications.
  • South Bend Code School:, Provides training and web development skills needed to obtain tech jobs.
  • Trek10: Develops and manages cloud-based computing for businesses, providing increased efficiency and flexibility while reducing infrastructure costs.

These initial renovations will pave the way for future phases of development in Buildings 112 and 113, which will include collaborative educational initiatives on the second floor of the facility.

“South Bend is ready to take full advantage of what we’ve always had going for us, a tradition of innovation, excellence in workmanship, the resources of a world-class research university, and a distinctive location surrounded by highways, crisscrossed by rail and situated between several of the Midwest’s largest cities,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “With these assets, South Bend is prepared to make good on our potential by rehabilitating former Studebaker buildings into centers for technology companies and related educational programs.”

The Indiana Regional Cities Initiative is helping communities across Indiana come together to transform their regions into nationally-recognized destinations to live, work and play. North Central Indiana is one of three regions selected by the state for phase one funding at $42 million each in order to advance quality of place projects. The region’s “Innovate Indiana” plan outlines 39 quality of place projects throughout Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties totaling more than $703 million in combined public and private investment.

“This is a bright new beginning,” said Kevin Smith, building owner and Renaissance District project leader. Smith is the founder and chief executive officer of Global Access Point, which operates the data center at Union Station Technology Center. “At one time, we produced cars sold around the world in these buildings. Now, from the same place, we’ll be a beacon of light and a source of innovation for the world.”

The region’s RDA is responsible for finalizing how funding will be dispersed throughout the region; it is expected that state funds awarded through the Indiana Regional Cities Initiative will be allocated toward the redevelopment of the Studebaker campus. In addition to the Studebaker project, North Central Indiana’s regional development plan includes improvements to the South Shore rail service, redevelopments to East Bank Village along the St. Joseph River and the revitalization of Elkhart’s Market District.