Fort Ben and the City of Lawrence Nominated for ‘Rising Tech City’ TechPoint Mira Award
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (February 12, 2019) — TechPoint, the nonprofit, industry-led growth initiative for Indiana’s technology ecosystem, recently announced the nominees for its 20th annual Mira Awards. Together, Fort Ben and the City of Lawrence were selected as one of five nominees in the Rising Tech City category, which recognizes cities, towns, or regions as the best in Indiana at creating tech friendly communities.
“The City of Lawrence is honored to be considered for a Mira Award – the nomination recognizes Fort Ben’s viability as a technology and innovation campus with its rich history, one-of-a-kind setting, and accessibility, as well as the City’s commitment to fostering tech innovation and entrepreneurship as the true backbone of its economic development strategy,” said Mayor Steve Collier.
The City of Lawrence joins much larger city nominees of Indianapolis, Fishers, South Bend and Bloomington. The City, and the Fort Ben campus in particular, has worked hard to gain a place among the ‘Best of Indiana in Tech’, offering innovation and amenities that attract tech savvy businesses. The nomination honors two decades of strategic planning and investment of local and regional leaders into the redevelopment of the former Fort Benjamin Harrison military base into a walkable, mixed-use campus that is now home to 27 technology firms within a half-mile radius.
“We are delighted to celebrate the decades of commitment to planning and placemaking that has contributed to the outstanding growth of the local tech ecosystem on the Fort Ben campus,” said Aletha Dunston, Executive Director of the Fort Harrison Reuse Authority (FHRA). “We could not be more honored about this opportunity to represent our partners on Indiana’s largest tech stage and to highlight the exciting things happening here at the Fort.”
Fort Ben and the City of Lawrence have focused on offering a natural, park-like setting with abundant free parking and historic charm. Easy connections to and from major employment hubs of the Indianapolis region, and ample amenities and housing in walking and biking distance have brought 27 tech companies to the area since 2000 for annualized growth of 150% per year.
Preservation and placemaking have been emphasized since the closure of the base. It began with the original donation of 1,700-acres of land to form the Fort Harrison State Park and Golf Course and continues today with the recent announcement of a Lilly Endowment grant of $5.85-million to expand the historic military theater and establish a cultural campus at the heart of Fort Ben.
Development has been intentional to attract and retain tech talent with the creative reuse of existing structures like former Army barracks and mule barns into innovative living, dining and work spaces, creating sites for new construction, modern connectivity and infrastructure.
“The economic development impact realized from this tech ecosystem plays a vital role in the continued growth and investment for our local economy,” said Trace Yates, President and CEO of the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. “We are very pleased that this "best-kept-secret" is no longer, given this consideration for the Rising Tech City designation.”
The tech companies at Fort Ben continue to express their desire to collaborate, and the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce and FHRA have worked to create and deepen relationships between companies at events like Fort Ben Tech Focus Groups and Tech Mixers, to make introductions and share information about what their firm can offer other tech partners, and to highlight what connections would be helpful to form with neighboring firms. These conversations and partnerships continue to develop, strengthening each company and the very fabric of the Fort.
“There is little doubt that tech will continue to be an area of significant growth for Indiana, as we see local tech companies growing, out-of-state companies opening offices here, and large enterprises from other industries becoming increasingly tech enabled,” said Mike Langellier, CEO of TechPoint. “This is a special year, as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mira Awards, and we look forward to recognizing the people, companies, and places that are Indiana’s current and future success stories.”
Mira Award nominees were selected by 48 independent subject matter experts who evaluated and ranked the applications. Later this month, nominees will present their cases to judging panels, after which the judges will select the winners following deliberations. Winners will be announced at a black-tie awards ceremony on Saturday, April 13, at the JW Marriott — Indianapolis. A complete list of the nominees is available at www.techpoint.org/mira.