Indiana may be better known for its corn than its computer chips, but that’s a trend that’s on the verge of changing. Indianapolis is quickly becoming a thriving hub for Internet commerce companies and other tech-based firms. There seems to be a particular interest in the Circle City for businesses relating to social media, blog publishing, optimizing websites for search engines and providing email services. In fact, there are more than 70 of these businesses in Indy, and this number is expected to grow.
The Appeal of Indianapolis for Business Owners
Indianapolis is unpretentious and unassuming, and is often overlooked as a big city. Most people only associate Indianapolis with the Indy 500 or the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers. In addition to a well-represented sports culture, there is a strong visual and performing arts culture that thrives in Indianapolis. Property values are extremely low by comparison for a city of its size. It’s possible to find a reasonably-priced building for rent in which to operate a new business. Combine these things with a cost of living that’s lower than average for a city of this size, and Indianapolis is an attractive city for business owners and their families.
“It’s a tremendous quality of life,” says Chris Baggott, who co-founded ExactTarget but left in 2006 to found Compendium, which publishes on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and more for its clients. According to Baggott, “People who are sick of living in the Valley and sick of not seeing their kids’ baseball games” will feel right at home in Indianapolis and surrounding areas.
Strong Business Community
But what is it about Indianapolis that makes it so attractive to these major technology companies? In the end, it comes down to three basic advantages Indianapolis has over similarly sized cities: local talent, Midwestern values and a tech community that fosters growth. There are also several major universities nearby: Purdue, Ball State, DePauw, IUPUI, Butler and Indiana Universities—all of which offer programs that prepare students for work in technology fields. That’s a significant pool of talent from which to draw.
“I think that’s a critical differentiator between Indy and other metropolitan areas,” said Neil Berman, founder of Delivra, an email services provider in Indianapolis. Berman, a former accountant, and his wife, a former Postal Service employee, bootstrapped their way into the tech world during the dot-com boom. His company now has 29 employees and $5 million in annual revenue.
The bottom line is that Indianapolis is proud of its forward movement in the field of technology and not showing any signs of slowing down. With each new business such as Compendium, Delivra and ExactTarget, the industry is viewing the Hoosier state with a greater degree of interest and acceptance. The best news, though, is that there’s plenty room for more new tech companies, and Indianapolis is “open for business!”