Bloomington’s reputation as a hotspot for technology has been growing for the better part of the past two decades. But, just as the Bloomington’s rolling hillsides and urban sensibilities often surprise the unsuspecting visitor – the one who was prepared only for flatlands, cornfields and conversations at the country store – the idea that Bloomington’s tech sector is just as busy as the basketball hoops in each of our driveways can be a shocker.

But, for you, gentle reader, the truth will out. Bloomington’s tech secrets are revealed – and, as it turns out, they’re not so secret.

In fact, the Milken Institute has taken notice. They ranked Bloomington number two in the nation of 124 small metros for high tech GDP concentration. What’s more, among the many accolades for Indiana University-Bloomington’s School of Informatics and Computing, it was also just named among the top 20 best graduate schools in 2016 to study data analytics (Value Colleges).

Bloomington’s tech field has grown by 80 percent since the Bloomington Technology Partnership began tracking the sector in 2008; growth that’s been fueled from the bright minds cultivated both by IU and by a dynamic community culture of entrepreneurship. And as Bloomington has been ranked by Forbes as the #1 best city for work-life balance, and we have a cost of living that’s more than 7 percent lower than the national average, it’s no wonder tech workers are finding their home here.

But that’s information any good tourist can find. If you want to know what the locals know, then check out CheddarGetter, a Bloomington startup who since 2009 has been providing tech solutions that help other businesses get paid. Or, ride along with family-run Blue Burro who helps other businesses innovate by bridging business processes and today’s agile tech solutions in the cloud. Or, puzzle it out with Studio Cypher, who are making the world a better place through games. There are national and international tech firms with roots here too, like the Bloomington-founded, first-responder/law enforcement software development firmEnvisage Technologies and application security firm Cigital.

There are dozens more where they’ve come from, together creating a strong and diverse tech sector and building a culture and community ripe for more tech growth. From pitching new business ideas at monthly meetups like Verge Bloomington, to getting acquainted with possible future business partners while working side by side at CoWork Btown, there are plenty of ways to light the spark year-round in Bloomington, not just at the annual Combine conference.

And Bloomington has the educational foundation necessary to build a roaring fire from all those sparks. Brushing up skills or delving in deep is no problem: from Bloomington’s free, 12-week Code School, to the cutting edge programs like Indiana University Media School’s B.S. in Game Design, to the multiple paths for undergraduate and graduate degrees from the IU School of Informatics and Computing, including Computer Science, Intelligent Systems Engineering, Informatics and Information & Library Science. For all, practical experience with case studies and/or real-world projects with local firms prepares student for the highly competitive tech market in Bloomington and around the globe – but will all that Bloomington has to offer, and as our secret continues to get out, there’s plenty to keep these smarties here.

You’re likely to bump into many of these folks at the Combine April 7 – 9. And, now that you’re in the know, there’s plenty of common ground to spark a conversation, and most importantly, to add your fuel to Bloomington’s year-round tech flame.

About the Combine
The Combine is a sponsor-funded, non-profit volunteer-run event and a project of the Humanetrix Foundation, Inc. The event is made possible by the support of The City of Bloomington, Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship, Form Assembly, IU School of Informatics and Computing, BEDC, Startup Weekend Bloomington, and the Humanetrix Foundation.

About Humanetrix
The mission of Humanetrix is to mobilize technologists to improve themselves and their community. Humanetrix develops public interest technology tools and provides educational opportunities for technologists. Humanetrix activities primarily serve the Bloomington, Indiana and US Midwest areas.