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 Bloomington: Tethering Tech Talent

Bloomington, Indiana (Pop. 80,405)
July 2014

Every year, more than 46,000 students flock to the Indiana University (IU) campus in Bloomington to gain world-class knowledge and skills for their future careers.  Upon graduating, many of these students look to metropolitan areas like Indianapolis, Chicago and the coasts for lucrative jobs with innovative companies, taking their talents with them.

Bloomington's tech sector is working to retain these skilled graduates and foster the city’s emerging high-tech economy through the Bloomington Technology Partnership (BTP), a collaboration between the city of Bloomington, Bloomington Economic Development Corporation and technology leaders in Monroe County and at the university. The partnership aims to establish Bloomington as a unique hotbed of tech talent, building upon the creative and entrepreneurial strengths of the community.  

BTP places a high priority on uniting Bloomington’s tech workforce and innovating ways to attract and retain talent.  In 2011, the partnership launched a web portal that includes a job board, company profiles, events page, blog and Twitter feeds from local tech leaders. They strategically implemented an online marketing effort through Twitter, LinkedIn and the web portal’s blog, while also holding in-person meetings with business leaders, software developers, young entrepreneurs and other stakeholders.  The partnership has also been actively involved in developing, promoting and financially supporting local tech events such a technology career and internship fair; Combine, Bloomington’s annual conference celebrating technology, culture and coding; and Verge Bloomington, an online community of Bloomington entrepreneurs, software developers and business investors.     

This month, the BTP is opening Bloomington Code School, a free program that will teach computer programming and web design skills to Monroe County residents. The BTP teamed up with Monroe County Public Library to offer anyone with a county library card access to Treehouse, a robust online code learning platform. The Bloomington Code School will use Treehouse alongside guided mentorships designed to quickly address job openings in the local tech sector. Through a grant from the Community Foundation of Bloomington & Monroe County, lease sponsorship by CFC Properties and broadband sponsorship by Smithville Telecom, the BTP is able to offer this program at no cost to local residents.   

The partnership has emerged as the local leader for prospective employees, employers, startups, remote workers, and organizers of important tech events. The web portal receives more than 1000 visits per month, and a large number come from major tech hotspots like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York.  BTP’s LinkedIn group boasts 765 members.      

Funded in part by the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation and in part by the city of Bloomington, the very existence of the Bloomington Technology Partnership speaks volumes to businesses and potential employees about Bloomington’s commitment to their success.      

For more information about the Bloomington Technology Partnership visit http://bloomingtontech.com or contact Katie Birge, BTP Director. Additional best practice resources can be found on Ball State’s Primacy of Place website.  

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This post was a part of Ball State’s 2014 “Ten Communities in Ten Weeks” series highlighting ten Indiana cities and towns that are committed to promoting quality of life for their residents, businesses and visitors.

Through its Primacy of Place initiative, Ball State University is committed to helping Indiana communities that desire to strengthen their local economies by putting human interests at the center of economic development.  

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