New Indy Chamber Vice President of Economic Development Ian Nicolini says flexible space like what is now offered at The Union 525 at the former Emmerich Manual High School is important for high-growth companies in the city’s burgeoning technology scene. The new scale-up space has already attracted Springbuk, a data analytics company that has added dozens of jobs this year, and SmartFile, which offers a file management platform, is set to locate to The Union in February. SmartFile President John Hurley is a partner at The Union 525 and says it could "transform the way businesses find space."
Nicolini tells Inside INdiana Business The Union 525 is a sign of more than just a growing tech scene. "At a micro level, this is a project that is an investment in a near-downtown neighborhood that’s going to drive traffic and help out retail," he said. As the kind of businesses The Union is trying to attract continue to crop-up, Nicolini says space will be "hugely important." He adds the city and organizations like his own Develop Indy are working with industry partners to create a supportive atmosphere for the talent pipeline that will feed the future of tech. "The key to sustaining success in any field is being able to attract talent and that begins with having a strong business climate, but it also means having a high quality of life, interesting places to live that are connected one-another, being a welcoming, inclusive city, and Indianapolis offers all of those," said Nicolini. "Folks in Indianapolis that are working in this scene stay there longer than their counterparts out West and that means a lot to companies looking to invest and grow."
The Union 525 has been renovated, but includes the old gymnasium courtyard and original bell towers. It offers 5,000 square-foot suites that officials say are designed for "instantaneous scalability." The building was later home to Harry E Wood High School, which closed in the 1970s. The Emmerich Manual High School name still exists at its current location on the city’s south side.