Situated at the southernmost curve in the St. Joseph River, South Bend, Ind., has seen its fortunes turn over the decades. At its birth in the 1820s, it was a fur trading post. Later, factories and mills sprang up along the river, including the Singer Sewing Co. and the Studebaker wagon shop (which later evolved into the automobile company). For nearly a century the city was a thriving manufacturing hub. But when imports slowed the demand for U.S.-made goods in the early 1960s, things went south in South Bend.

People followed industry out of town, so to keep revenue flowing, the city fell back on healthcare and higher education. It’s home to the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University–South Bend, among other colleges and universities, and to a regional healthcare system and a growing bio- and nanotechnology industry.

Developments are creating homes for new businesses and the executives and employees who work in them. Many, like Notre Dame’s Innovation Park (see the slideshow), are related to the universities. “We are developing in partnership with the city a technology park that is intended to incubate new businesses born from research in our laboratories,” explains Doug Marsh, associate vice president and university architect at Notre Dame.

Another, Eddy Street Commons (see the slideshow), is a $215 million project that, notes Marsh, “epitomizes a turning point in the region’s history—a reorientation back to the city.”


Current population of 104,000 expected to grow 7% by 2025. County unemployment has recently doubled to 9.5%.

Office Market

Class A office space rates: $12/s.f.–$21/s.f.

Residential Market

January 2009 average home sale price: $102,500.

Market Strengths

  • Reasonable cost of living
  • Proximity to Chicago
  • Well-functioning infrastructure

Market Concerns

  • Reasonable cost of living
  • Proximity to Chicago
  • Well-functioning infrastructure


“If the efforts to build an intellectual infrastructure of nanotechnology take hold, this could be a boon” for growth, says local architect David Sassano. “There will also be people looking for technical training, second degrees, and supplemental education.”