When an tornado outbreak laid siege to Kokomo last Wednesday, about 200 people took refuge inside Inventrek Technology Park when the building was hit — and all emerged unharmed.
However, the 98,000-square-foot facility — which hosts about 26 companies, Ivy Tech Kokomo’s nursing and health science programs and The Shared Drive co-working space — sustained up to $2 million in roof and structure damage according to the Kokomo Tribune. As a result, the facility is expected to be closed at least 4 to 5 months for repairs, said Cathy Valcke, director of external relations and public affairs for IU Kokomo.
In the interim, the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance will try to find temporary homes for the displaced businesses as possible. Ivy Tech already has made arrangements for its affected operations and The Shared Drive will be temporarily relocated as well once a suitable site is found.
“The beautiful thing was we utilized our emergency plan and everybody took shelter and everyone was safe,” GKEDA manager of economic development Mike McCool told the Tribune. “When we get the facility in shape, we can hopefully bring (displaced businesses and programs) back into the fold.”
Last October, The Shared Drive — a 3,000-square-foot allotment within Inventrek made possible through a $25,000 grant from Innovate Indiana — celebrated its grand opening as Howard County’s first “co-worker” space.
Inventrek itself has close ties to Indiana University as well. The facility was established in 2004 with the help of a $1 million federal grant that IU Kokomo Chancellor Emerita Ruth Person helped secure.
“We are very thankful that everyone inside Inventrek came out fine despite the substantial damage the tornado inflicted,” said David Gard, assistant vice president for economic development for IU’s Office of the Vice President for Engagement. “Our thoughts are with the residents of Kokomo, as well as the many other cities and businesses across Indiana who are working to recover from this recent bout of storms.”
Both Inventrek and The Shared Drive serve as valuable economic resources for Howard County. Since its founding, Inventrek has been pivotal in launching many thriving businesses in the region, while The Shared Drive allows students and the community to collaborate and share best practices as they work to build the region’s economy.
“In the months to come, we hope to see Inventrek and The Shared Drive back up and running as soon as they are able,” Gard said.