What aspiring entrepreneurs need to know about starting a business in South Bend

Notre Dame Stadium

When you think of South Bend, a large private Catholic university called Notre Dame and an esteemed ‘Mayor Pete’ come to mind.

In the news, the city is also always labeled as a meek college town. But there’s a lot more going on for South Bend. It’s actually a buzzing city ahead of its time, and inarguably an attractive place to start a business. So, if you’re looking to make South Bend home to your new venture, get to know the city a little bit by reading on.

It’s technology-forward

Pete Buttigieg’s time as South Bend mayor from 2012 to 2020 pushed what was then an underperforming city to an innovative hub harnessing the latest tech. The city government sought to fix bottlenecks in its infrastructure by adopting programming and analytics. Old buildings have also been converted into data storage units, helping South Bend make more informed, data-driven decision making.

Support is in abundance for businesses operating in South Bend. In 2019, city leaders launched The Technology Resource Center (TRC), a space dedicated to collaboration, innovation, and technology training. The TRC aims to create more opportunities for local talent and institutions by providing them the tools they need to keep up with breaking trends. Anyone starting a business can benefit from Innovation Park and Ignition Park, which are dual-certified technology parks that have elevated the tech business scene in the city. And with the aforementioned contributions, Harvard Business Review now considers South Bend a “hotbed of innovation”.

The cost of living is cheaper

Another interesting thing about South Bend is that it’s a relatively cheap place to live. According to PayScale, the cost of living in the city is 8% lower than the national average, with lower housing, food, transportation, and utility expenses.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, business costs are also relatively affordable, especially compared to other states. Starting a limited liability company in Indiana entails a filing fee of approximately $100, or $95 if you submit your paperwork online. Elsewhere in the country, filing fees can go as high up as $425 (Nevada) and $500 (Massachusetts). Annual fees, meanwhile, are $50 when submitted through mail, and $32 if submitted over the internet. In contrast, businesses in California typically pay $800 a year, while those in North Carolina pay $200.

Adding to the low costs, entrepreneurs need not worry about security as South Bend also offers a lot of financial support to small business owners. For example, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Bend has started offering grants up to $1,000 to help those affected cope and survive amidst these unsettling times.

The culture is progressive

South Bend is one of the more progressive areas in conservative Indiana. It has a rating of 77 out of 100 in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Municipal Equality Index. It has scored high because it has lots of non-discrimination laws and leads the way when rallying for LGBT equality.

Businesses in South Bend resonate with this inclusive ideology. When the state of Indiana passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2015 — an act that allows businesses to refuse customers services based on their religious beliefs — South Bend business leaders expressed their dismay, declaring that they will provide equal treatment for everyone regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation.

In the past decade, South Bend has proven to be a very dynamic city within a conservative state. The city continues to offer entrepreneurs the tools they need to start a business. More than that, South Bend allows them to become part of a community that strives for constant reinvention and improvement. Any entrepreneur who’s interested in being part of a city’s progress — both technologically and culturally — will prosper when opening a business in South Bend.

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