The Studebaker Corporation was a longtime driver of the South Bend economy. On that site today, the developing Ignition Park is striving to meet the needs of innovators and entrepreneurs. Flexibility is the key to serving companies on that growth spiral. HeadQuarters is a co-working space that opened in late 2016, and the Notre Dame Turbomachinery Laboratory is a $36 million facility working with industry and government partners. Others in the Catalyst One and Catalyst Two buildings are in varying stages of development.

Brad Toothaker, managing partner of Great Lakes Capital (GLC) and president and CEO of Bradley Company, says there is not really a size description that fits Ignition Park tenants. “It’s a little more thematic in terms of R&D, high tech and information systems. We are intended to be a next phase growth location for companies (whether coming from Innovation Park at Notre Dame or other locations) to continue to have some shared resources for a period of time … from there, we can scale internally into dedicated spaces that might be needed.” Toothaker, with his real estate background, is fully aware of the long-term lease challenge inherent in the traditional space model. “That’s part of the reason the Ignition Park development includes a couple of buildings, and ultimately more buildings, with long-term substantial tenant commitments – to be able to offer this space where people can add one seat at a time and on a very flexible basis,” he shares. “Ultimately, that 10-employee group turns into 25 people and they make a longer-term commitment to lease space in 5,000 square feet or whatever it may be.”

Toothaker notes that traditional office space is “capital intensive,” but that innovation space developers are making a “capital investment commitment up front in creating the space to begin with. But you’re not going to be customizing it and spending a lot of additional money downstream.” GLC purchased 13 acres from the city of South Bend to build Catalyst One and Catalyst Two. As those facilities near 100% occupancy, there is room for more buildings on that site, and the company has the option to purchase 11 additional acres. Work on the next facilities could begin later this year.

Before Ignition Park became the hub of such activities, GLC was working with area companies like SMART Temps and Vennli. “We’ve done that on a case-by-case basis for many years, scaling them up over time with their space requirements,” Toothaker reveals. “We structured rent scenarios, invested in them and grew them in a way that was comfortable for them and stayed flexible for their growth.” GLC has a GLC Ventures arm that is actively working with others and aiding companies at various financing stages. Toothaker cites another recent development in the world of co-working and beyond, which he describes as “really cool.” “More companies are sharing space and mixing intelligence and resources. So you might have three engineers with different companies that are in different space but have collaborative intelligence that can benefit one another.”


Article Written by Tom Schuman for BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – May/June 2017 Read the Full Article Here: