New Trades District Advisory Board Named

by Aug 9, 2023

Today we’re very excited to announce that John Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Strategic Partnerships here at The Mill, has assembled a new Trades District Advisory Board of community leaders across many sectors.

Development of the 12-acre district has ramped up since Bloomington’s Redevelopment Commission (RDC) authorized The Mill to manage its development and marketing in January. The board will help us realize the long-standing vision of the Trades District as a strategic hub for the Bloomington region’s innovation-fueled economic development initiatives. Specifically, they’ll advise on developing the real estate and related ecosystem infrastructure.

Trades District Advisory Board Members

The new board includes experts from real estate, business, academia, and government, with the majority representing private sector organizations. The board may eventually grow to 15 members, but we’re launching with these initial members:

  • Sue Aguila, Founder/Owner, Bloomington Bagel Co.
  • Isak Asare, Consultant, Aleria Research Corp; Co-Director Cybersecurity & Global Policy Program, Hamilton Lugar School of Global & International Studies
  • Jay Baer, Owner, Convince & Convert; Founder, Tequila Jay Baer
  • Erik Coyne, Chancellor, Ivy Tech Bloomington
  • Hamid Farzad, Vice President, Global Business Development, BioProduct Commercial, Catalent
  • Anne Fields Lucas, NavalX Midwest Tech Bridge Director
  • Jon-Paul Herron, Director of Network Services, Energy Sciences Network (ESnet)
  • Michael Huber, Vice President University Relations, Indiana University
  • Bryant Niehoff, CEO, Uplands Science & Technology Foundation

We’re thrilled to see so many partners across sectors collaborating on building a vibrant innovation hub. We’re not just selling real estate, after all. We’re building a dynamic entrepreneurial neighborhood that channels Bloomington’s unique spirit and attracts the young professional talent and innovation-driven companies. And the Trades District Advisory Board will help us shape a compelling vision.

Development Progress

The planned development of the much-anticipated tech center is on track for a fall ground breaking. The tech center will be a new 22,000 square foot LEED certified office building. It’s received $5 million in funding from the City of Bloomington. The U.S. Economic Development Administration also awarded $3.5 million to the project.

John is also working with developers on a proposal for a $35 million boutique hotel. He hopes to present that project to the RDC in the coming weeks.

Finally, we’re thrilled to see that private development projects in the district are also moving forward. A collective of local businesses (including foundational Mill member companies and board members) are redeveloping the former Kiln Building next door to The Mill. Renovation is underway on the former Showers Administration building as well. We hear that the interior is looking gorgeous and that visitors can ask for a sneak peek.

A Regional Magnet for Innovation

As a cultural magnet at the heart of the sci-tech corridor from Crane to Indy, Bloomington is perfectly positioned to become a regional innovation hub. If you’re a startup or a growth-stage company, you’ve got access to the talent and applied R&D coming out of IU. You can tap into the incredible IP at Crane. You’re surrounded by a community of fellow founders. You can benefit from the startup programming at The Mill and access to capital through Flywheel Fund. And you get all this in a city rich in arts, entertainment, sports, great food, and fantastic outdoor recreation.

We think we’ll find that even some mature companies will want to tap into that pipeline of talent and opportunity. Thanks again to our new Trades District Advisory Board for volunteering their time to help us make this vision a reality!

These are exciting times for Bloomington. We hope you’ll visit us at The Mill and explore the Trades District soon.