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Fort Wayne offers higher education incentive

Statement as issued Monday by the city:

Fort Wayne, Ind. – Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry today announced the City of Fort Wayne is inviting colleges and universities to help make the downtown area a hub for innovative learning experiences.

As part of Legacy Fort Wayne, the City has created the Higher Education Opportunity Fund, which will provide higher learning nonprofit institutions up to a $3 million, 3-to-1 match for capital investments. The investments must be made in downtown Fort Wayne or surrounding core neighborhoods. Letters were recently sent to college and university presidents throughout Indiana and the tri-state region inviting them to submit potential projects to be funded.

The Opportunity Fund has a limited amount of dollars available and applications will be considered as they are submitted. The first step in the process is to contact Sharon Feasel, the City’s Higher Education Opportunity Fund manager, at 260-427-2107, to learn more about the criteria. All applications must include proposals for capital expenses and a long-term commitment to downtown or central urban neighborhoods.

Some of the criteria that will be considered for potential projects include:

*Long-term commitment to downtown or core neighborhoods (20-30 years)

*Emphasis on significantly increasing education and training opportunities in and around Fort Wayne’s core business district

*A minimum project cost of $1 million with a maximum grant from the fund of $3 million

*Number of jobs created, both during construction and long-term

*Number of students regularly using the facility

*Whether the facility will serve as a catalyst for additional development

*The innovative nature of the project

“We know how critical education is to the future success of our City. Education will lead to a skilled workforce that has the ability to compete for jobs,” said Mayor Henry. “We’re excited about the opportunities that exist for there to be a strong educational presence downtown with hundreds of students. Innovative partnerships will help bring transformational change to our community.”

Recent investments in downtown education include the purchase of the Scottish Rite Center and the Chamber Building by the University of Saint Francis. In addition, Indiana Tech continues to make enhancements to its campus, along with the introduction of a new law school.

The Legacy Fort Wayne Fund was created by proceeds from the sale of the City Light Utility to Indiana Michigan Power and its funds are to be used to create transformational change in the community. More information about the guiding principles and project criteria for the Higher Education Opportunity Fund can be viewed at www.legacyfortwayne.org.

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