In 2009, when an announcement was made that the City of Anderson had purchased and donated to Ivy Tech Community College 38 acres of land near Interstate 69, there was great excitement in the community.
That excitement waned over the next few years, as the State of Indiana declined, year after year, to release $20 million that had been approved for a new campus in Anderson. The original enthusiasm eroded to skepticism that the campus would ever be built.
Up until recently, the possibility of the funds becoming available had begun to appear even more remote as news stories about Ivy Tech's budget shortfall of about $78 million circulated. Officials of the statewide community college, which is led by Anderson resident Tom Snyder, have been talking about employee layoffs and the possibility of closing as much as 25 percent of Ivy Tech's off-campus facilities.
So, it came as a surprise to many Wednesday when the State Budget Committee announced that it would release the $20 million for the Anderson facility, as well as $43 million more for expansion projects in Bloomington and Indianapolis.
This is great news for Anderson. Officials hope to open the new campus along 60th Street in the summer of 2015. With a convenient location to many who live along the I-69 corridor, the new facility should accelerate Ivy Tech's recent enrollment growth of about 4 percent a year. Enrollment in Anderson is already more than 2,600 students. Statewide, Ivy Tech enrollment exceeds 200,000.
If you've been to the Ivy Tech campus off I-69 near Marion, you've seen an impressive and busy facility that draws people to the community. Anderson's new campus, with 85,000 square feet under roof, might have even greater potential, given that it will be much closer to the north side of Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, the current Ivy Tech facility off 38th Street in Anderson will continue to serve students in the School of Health Sciences.
While the state has finally stepped forward with $20 million, $4 million more is needed to complete the new campus. That will have to come from private donations. To generate those donations, a capital campaign committee from 2009 will be brought back together.
The Anderson community may not have the ability that it once did, before the decline of the auto industry, to muster easily such huge sums of donated money. But civic-minded community leaders still abound, and there's reason to believe that the $4 million can be raised.
When people talk about Anderson's relatively high poverty and unemployment rates, the conversation often leads to a discussion of low levels of educational attainment. Ivy Tech provides associate programs to give people the training they need for skilled jobs, making it an important part of the solution to the community's economic malaise.
The new Ivy Tech campus will help address the educational shortfall, while bringing more people to the community to spend time and money.
In summary The new Ivy Tech Community College campus planned for Anderson would help address an educational shortfall, while bringing more people to the community to spend time and money.