EnFocus is a group of Notre Dame graduate students that are sticking around helping solve economic problems here in South Bend. NewsCenter 16’s Frank Waugh goes inside their rather large apartment that is helping them work around the clock.
“These guys, they work 24 hours a day, they are always on, because not only are we looking at how to solve the problems that the people give us in innovative ways. To come to those solutions we are also looking at other problems like, how to make South Bend a better place to live work and play,” said Nick Easley, Executive Director of enFocus.
Their new living space is helping make that job a bit easier.
“This space that we are standing in here, we use this quite often,” said Khoa Huynh. “It is probably the most used room in the house, the kitchen. But this 14 foot granite island that we have here allows us to sit around and talk and work,
The large island is just the start of this community living space. The apartment comes complete with 7 bedrooms, a couple of living rooms, and a room almost complete, covered with white boards with a special name.
“We call it the war room, but it has 3 white boards in there, we have a projector in there as well and that just helps us,” said Huynh. “We go in there, we have meetings, we have brainstorming sessions in there, and it is just a nice space to collaborate and work.”
This unique space didn't start off this way. Developer Dave Mathews, stepped up to the plate and gutted the second floor of this building when he heard they were looking for a place to live.
“We came up with a design that we thought made sense for the way that they would live and work, and so it could be both a social place but also a place that promoted industry and creativity,” said Mathews of Mathews LLC.
Located just east of the Emporium, they are also promoting another cause.
“There is a huge push to get more people living downtown in South Bend. There are a lot of great things going on down town,” said Easley.
“By getting these educated, creative, industrious fellows living in downtown they are interacting with local businesses they are interacting with local neighbors, and having them just walking the sidewalks and seeing them come and go from their apartment to go shopping to go to eat, has really helped change the atmosphere for the block down here.,” said Matthews.
And when the city is your office, this is the place to be.
“I do feel that I am more a part of the city itself,” said Huynh. “Like I said, I have lived here for the majority of my life but I have never really explored downtown and I am seeing things that I really didn't see before.”
“It speaks volumes to the fact that we are here to solve the problems, but we are not going to solve them from afar,” said Easley. “We are not simply going to throw stones at all of the problems and not really try to get to know them. We think that the best way to really get in and start solving problems is just get your hands dirty and start to make things happen and that is exactly what that says.”
To learn more about how enFocus is trying to turn brain drain into brain gain, visit the link below, or in the Big Red Bar.