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Board OKs new funds for IPFW’s tech center

– The Capital Improvements Board has finally said yes to IPFW.

The university’s Wireless Technology Center, a partnership between IPFW and the defense communications industry in northeast Indiana, was one of the first entities to request funding from the board when it began taking applications almost a year ago.

The board collects some state income and sales taxes from IPFW, Grand Wayne Center, Memorial Coliseum and the Holiday Inn near the Coliseum, but most of its funding comes from county food and beverage tax money left over after Coliseum debt payments are made. The board is expected to accumulate up to $85 million over the next 17 years, with the money earmarked for large, capital projects.

Though the Wireless Technology Center was among the first applicants, the board at first held off a decision, saying it wanted more information. In January, board members indicated they still did not have enough to go on and denied the application.

Thursday, after a much more specific and detailed application, the board unanimously approved the request for $276,000, subject to verification that the center will also get $100,000 in county economic development income tax money through the city of Fort Wayne.

“They came back with more specifics – there was a little more meat on the bone,” said Steve Brody, who heads the committee that examines the applications. “They made a stronger case.”

Brody said it helped immensely that IPFW officials invited board members to see the center and that they got to speak to people in the defense communications industry who assured the board the research conducted there will be vital.

The funding proposal says it will pay for equipment needed to develop and test a prototype for a Gallium Nitride Microwave Power Amplifier, which will replace vacuum tube technology in advanced electronic warfare and software-defined radio applications.