Atkins ’20 Visits South Bend with LABB Peers

Max Atkins ’20 LABB Intern – First off, I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for making these opportunities possible for myself and my peers. The LABB program had the opportunity to travel up to South Bend. We arrived early on Thursday to prepare for our meeting with Alumni Friday morning, and had the chance to tour Notre Dame’s campus Thursday evening.

Friday morning, we started to drive through downtown South Bend and saw how dilapidated it all was until we arrived at Union Station Technology Center. This once quite busy train station still had its original look of a train station on the outside, but it was in perfect condition even though the train station had been out of commission since 1971. Across the street was South Bend’s beautiful Single A baseball field for the South Bend Cubs. Both of these beautiful buildings, across the street from each other, stood out from the normal decrepit look of South Bend.

Our first alumni we were meeting with that morning was Shane Fimbel, and as we walked into Union Station, it looked immaculate. As we came to find out through spending about 3 hours with Shane, not only Union Station, but South Bend as a whole was his baby. Shane, along with many other Wabash alumnus, are trying to turn South Bend around. In 2010, South Bend was ranked 7th on a list of top 10 dying cities in the United States. Shane and many other alumni came together and said this will not happen to our city. So, the group set out to change South Bend from the run down city suffering from the “brain drain” to a main stream technological hub that will bring thousands of technology jobs to the city.

Shane is the Chief Operating Officer of Global Access Point, a data management company. His first project to change South Bend was turning run down, out of use Union Station into a high-tech data center for the Midwest. After that was completed, Shane didn’t just want to stop there. Shane took all of the LABB interns on an extensive tour of Union Station and a chain of about 3 more buildings explaining to us his vision of a technology campus that will become the hub of South Bend. In this half a billion-dollar project, Shane plans on building a parking garage that faces the renovated Studebaker car manufacturing plant that will become office space but will be open to the public as well. As you walk through the front of the complex, he plans on having office spaces there, but as you continue he has grand plans for this neglected 6 story building that is behind the already renovated office space. He wants to turn half of this giant building into a four-star hotel and the other half into condos. To make it all connected, Shane wants to dig out a tunnel connecting the front office space all the way to Union Station, connecting the entire campus. It’s hard looking at these boarded up buildings and thinking about this grand plan for a high-tech campus, especially considering the 5 or 6 years of work that has already been put into it, but Shane has no problem getting giddy like a kid on Christmas morning when he gets to explain his vision for what Union Station is to become.

I can easily say that Shane is one of the most passionate men I’ve ever met and his love for South Bend exceeds the love any man has for his hometown. His passion is infectious and is a good model for young entrepreneurs like myself. I hope to replicate his passion and drive in my own future endeavors.