Pat East, Executive Director of Dimension Mill, spoke this week at Bloomington Rotary about The Mill, its benefit to our community, and the unique resources and challenges that Bloomington as a city and a community faces as it develops its economy. Dimension Mill wants to imagine a world where everyone has a job, and it is the best job they could have in Bloomington, and it believes in fostering a space for coworking and business incubation.
Pat mentioned one of the biggest obstacles to a project like The Mill are a lack of talent, capital, training, and cheerleading. Talent can be corrected with programs like REBOOT, which cultivate talent in Bloomington, and B-Start, which cultivate startups and aim to incentivize innovative companies to start and stay in the city. In terms of cheerleading, energetic support from educational institutions like Indiana University and Ivy Tech, established companies like Cook Group and Pat’s own Hanapin Marketing, and experienced startups like Cowork, Periodic, Cheddar, and Envisage Technologies, there are lots of experts and support from Bloomington’s entrepreneurial community.
Pat also outlined the problem of capital, and redirecting investment capital to startup companies in Bloomington, rather than to real estate set aside for student housing development. Redirecting that capital is critical in order to grow the city’s economy and ensure that the strong community that has been built by organizations like SproutBox and Cowork continue to grow and develop. One of the long-term goals for The Mill is to be an advocate for investing in innovative people and companies. Pat has been an angel investor for a number of years, and noted that such investment can often yield significant returns.
Pat mentioned that Bloomington is one of the top cities whose populations have more advanced degrees than bachelor’s degrees. With his presentation on The Mill, he spoke about harnessing that unique human resource to create a space where entrepreneurs can start companies, and where the strong community of freelancers and remote workers in Bloomington can also call home as well, as part of The Mill’s integral mission to develop and maintain talent in the city. Pat described Bloomington as an “aspirational city, a fun, cool place. If you want to stay in Indiana, we are a good place to live.”
Pat showcased his experience in such a visionary undertaking by discussing the business that allowed him to even consider undertaking a unique project like The Mill: Hanapin Marketing. After co-founding Hanapin with his wife, Jamie, in a spare bedroom with $2,000, Pat has exponentially grown this digital marketing agency to national and international recognition. Pat is bringing that same entrepreneurial experience to Dimension Mill.