A business park in Floyd County that has been in the works for over a decade will soon open its first spaces. The $10 million Novaparke Innovation & Technology Campus sits on 60 acres near I-64 in Edwardsville and is designed to promote entrepreneurship and small business development. Don Lopp, director of operations and planning for the Floyd County Board of Commissioners, says the first two buildings are set to open in January, but there are 14 lots that can house numerous additional facilities as the campus grows.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Lopp said the campus will fill a gap for small businesses in the region.
“We are uniquely positioned in a couple of ways. There’s not, in the southern Indiana region, available lab space for startups to use, and that’s something that does limit businesses like that to come into the market,” said Lopp. “Also, there’s really the opportunity that’s unique with Indiana University Southeast is building a pipeline. Through their entrepreneurial program, we will have a program set up where we’ll have a pitch contest where we’re setting aside about $50,000 for two companies to use that as seed money.”
The Novaparke site includes a 40-acre farmstead that Lopp says was eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We decided to renovate that, keep that rural characteristic. That farmstead is the first four buildings of our campus,” said Lopp.
Ground was broken on the project in 2019, but Lopp said work was delayed due to the pandemic.
The first building will house a more than 2,000-square-foot coworking space called The Root. Both buildings will also have small business office space and flexible classroom space that could be used by small business tenants, as well as IU Southeast.
“[The university] is a partnering with us in developing not only startup businesses, but also helping small businesses through the business process – business plans, marketing, and product development as well.”
The second phase of the project will involve the third and fourth buildings, which will be redeveloped into wet and dry lab space for use by IU Southeast’s Natural Science Department and the public. They will also have additional office and entrepreneurial space for small businesses.
Lopp says having IU Southeast as a partner is particularly exciting for Novaparke.
“To me, it’s a fantastic partnership to have a regional campus of a Big Ten university involved,” he said. “They bring to the table a wealth of experience and knowledge regarding business, business development, best practices. They also bring a demographic of young entrepreneurs who are interested in starting and creating a business. The partnership is a perfect match because it allows their students to become involved, to have a space to start an idea and to take that idea to fruition.”
He adds the partnership will benefit efforts to keep talent in the region by providing continuous support to young entrepreneurs.
IU President Pamela Whitten visited the Novaparke site earlier this week. She told the News & Tribune the campus fits well into the university’s mission.
“A big part of that is an interest in economic development, so to come out here and see all the work that’s gone on is very exciting to me,” Whitten said. “It’s ambitious and it’s beautiful, and I think it really speaks well for the future.”
Lopp says officials have just begun marketing the site to potential businesses and entrepreneurs. Crews are nearing completion of an overpass to the site from State Road 64 to create greater accessibility.
“We’ll be accessible to I-64. We’re less than a mile away. We’re less than 15 miles away from Louisville and the amenities they have in terms of UPS and the downtown area as well.”
After the initial opening, which is expected to be complete in the spring, Novaparke officials are looking to further develop the site through a potential shell building and other companies developing their own facilities.
Lopp says he hopes a shell building could be utilized to support startups that begin in the coworking space and need to scale up.
Last month, Novaparke received approval from the Our Southern Indiana Regional Development Authority to receive a share of the region’s $50 million in funding from the state’s Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the cost of the project was $100 million.