The Indiana Tech campus, where building improvements have created an attractive and welcoming gateway east of downtown, is a fitting first beneficiary of the Legacy Fund's $8 million Higher Education Opportunity Fund.
City officials announced this week that $1 million will be awarded to Indiana Tech's $16 million Academic Center project. Every dollar from the city fund must be matched with $3 raised by the university.
The three-story center will become the university's new centerpiece, with 13 classrooms, the Ravi and Eleanor Talwar Leadership Center, the Center for Creative Collaboration to support area entrepreneurs, a state-of-the-art education laboratory, a high-tech criminal science laboratory, an expanded library, art gallery and an auditorium and theater.
Money from Fort Wayne's sale of its electric utility to I&M is the source of the Legacy Fund. The portion earmarked for higher education has sparked some serious discussion. Universities – both public and private – are well positioned to raise money from alumni and community sources without taxpayer support. Allen County's Capital Improvement Board rejected the Indiana Tech request for Academic Center support because the project was under way and would happen even without revenue from the food and beverage tax.
But Indiana Tech's project easily meets the Legacy Fund criteria. It's a long-term commitment to a near-downtown neighborhood. It will enhance education and training opportunities there and create jobs, both temporary construction jobs and permanent jobs. What better represents a legacy, in fact, than investment in young people?