Launch Looking For Statewide Success

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Whitney says the ultimate goal is to have a coworking space in every county. Whitney says the ultimate goal is to have a coworking space in every county.

The program manager of Launch Indiana says communities around the state continue to reach out to build on a network of coworking spaces. During an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Jason Whitney says Launch Indiana saw interest in creating new coworking spaces from communities in southern Indiana in 2016 and would like to expand efforts in northwest Indiana. During a member appreciation event Wednesday, Launch Fishers founder John Wechsler also announced the popular FailFest will become a quarterly event.

Whitney says Indiana currently has 40 coworking spaces and could realistically add 10 more this year, and the ultimate goal is to have a coworking space in all 92 Indiana counties. He says the traditional model for economic development isn’t working for every community and therefore, mayors are looking to Launch Indiana for different ideas, such as coworking spaces, to grow and keep local talent.

Launch Fishers, which which officially opened its 52,000 square-foot facility in March 2016, now has more than 600 members. Wechsler says that's more than double the amount he had hoped for by the third year of operation.

Whitney believes Launch Fishers is a "great model" for coworking in Indiana, particularly because of the public-private partnership that led to its growth. He says Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness' involvement and the community's willingness to invest in the effort have led to its success. Whitney says it is a valuable resource for communities throughout the state looking to move beyond "the traditional model of economic development."

The coworking space is also increasing its outreach by partnering with Ball State University on a partnership giving high school students in the Hamilton Southeastern School District the chance to learn about entrepreneurship while earning college credit. Last year, Miller College of Business Dean Jennifer Bott said the Launch Fishers High School Fellowship gives students "a foundation of understanding the life cycles of businesses." Ball State has also opened the Center for Academic and Economic Innovation at Launch Fishers, aiming to boost entrepreneurial learning and mentorship in the region.

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