This month, we’re celebrating three years of cowork and startup support at The Mill!
Three years ago, we opened the doors on our new building. The City of Bloomington did an outstanding job leading the $4.5 million renovation by Blackline Studio, which won a 2020 AIA Indiana Merit Award for Preservation/Adaptive Reuse/ Renovation. The City invested another $7 million in the infrastructure for this area: water, sewage, electricity, internet, streets, lighting. They laid the foundation, literally, for The Mill and for future projects like the upcoming Trades District Technology Center.
Cook Medical and Indiana University joined the City as The Mill’s Cornerstone Sponsors, and many other community businesses and organizations also stepped up to support growing our startup ecosystem.
As a result, we are now home to over 300 coworking members and 55 companies. We were Indiana’s fastest-growing coworking space before the pandemic. Like other organizations, we closed up for three months at the pandemic’s peak, but since reopening in June 2020, our membership has grown every month. We’ve now spent more time operating in a pandemic than not, but we haven’t let that hold us back. Bloomington even won the Rising Tech City award from TechPoint during the pandemic.
But The Mill is a lot more than a beautiful place to work and meet other innovators and entrepreneurs.
Velocities, our $2.5 million partnership with Elevate Ventures and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, has made an outstanding impact on entrepreneurial activity and innovation. Through that partnership, Elevate was able to hire Cy Megnin as Entrepreneur-in-Residence for our region. He’s mentored hundreds of companies, resulting in a dramatic spike in capital investments in local startups. The synergy between our friends at Elevate, IU Ventures, and The Mill is fueling growth.
Bloomington Remote, our remote worker recruitment program, is just over four months old. We hoped to attract 10 people to relocate to Bloomington by next summer, and we’ve already got 10 folks who have signed leases or bought homes.
Code/IT Academy, our code school for the unemployed and underemployed, is building the tech talent pool in Bloomington and expanding access to high-paying jobs in the digital economy.
Crossroads Pitch Competition has grown from a regional competition we first held in The Mill during renovations, when there was still no AC or lights, to a statewide competition. This year we launched Crossroads Collegiate for students, and we also shared our platform with other organizations and cities to help jumpstart new pitch competitions and innovation across the state.
Flywheel Fund, our microinvestment fund for early-stage Hoosier tech startups, launched in summer of 2020 and grew 500% from its first round to its second. Based on our early success there, we just received $400,000 Build to Scale grant from the Economic Development Administration to continue growing Flywheel and to build a second fund.
ReBoot, our entrepreneurial training program for the formerly incarcerated, launched this spring and will expand next year, with support from the City and ARPA funds.
These are just a few of the things we’ve been building at The Mill. But what really gets us going and keeps us going is the success of our startups and member companies. We’ve got some big news we’ll share soon about a few of those. Stay tuned! This is the only the beginning of good things to come.