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South Bend Studebaker plant gets new life

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Friday December 20, 2013 was like any other day. The kids asked, "Mom what are we going to do tonight." I knew there were things planned downtown South Bend, but what I found I could not have imagined. Our first stop was a bit of local history, and included some great old cars back when South Bend was a central hub in American culture. Presedential edition Autos and carriages used but national historical figures, but the children most liked the vehicle driven by Fozzy Bear in the Muppet movies.

As I waited at the children's play area for them to change the tires on a replica of a small Studebaker I picked up a pamphlet detailing the other evenings events. Our next stop was the Ansel Adam's photography exhibit. I asked each one to find a picture that they thought was amazing to tell me about as we left, which gave me time to enjoy the wonderful works of art on display before me.

From there I had heard that there would be fireworks at the old train station. I thought, "that will nicely round out our tour of town". We pulled into a parking spot in front of the station, about 30 minutes early, but the building was still open, so we went in to look around. The presentation had brought us full circle, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes. The skies over South Bend were lit up as the city literally spotlighted innovation from around the city. At the center was the aptly named Ignitin Park. Located within the old Union Station building and part of the Studebaker factory; local politicians, educators, and investors came forward to pass the torch from the former factrory workers to those who will inspire new technology and innovation within those walls.

According to Scott Ford, the city's executive director of community investment, the city's investment is expected to be about 15 percent of the total cost or about $900,000. A revolution is taking place in South Bend. University based research is leading to discoveries with the potential to create new products and jobs. According to the park's website (ignitionpark.com) the new Ignition Park in connection with Innovation Park at Notre Dame will allow faculty, students, and alumni to collaborate and commercialize research and to capitalize on ideas that will become viable businesses.

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