Republican Sen. Connie Lawson, Danville, was among numerous local and state officials who gathered at Greencastle City Hall Tuesday morning to celebrate $8 million in construction funding for the project which is set to begin next summer.
Lawson played a pivotal role in getting the money approved for Ivy Tech, but she described two hurdles that the project still faces before becoming a reality.
First, the money for the project has to be released from the state budget agency. If past history is any indication, Ivy Tech already experienced a delay from the budget agency when $250,000 in preplanning money for the project was held up earlier this year. Officials say the delay has not stopped the project from continuing to move forward.
Secondly, the overall project has to be approved by the state Commission for Higher Education.
Lawson said she will push to have the project placed on the Commission's agenda for later this summer. She said she anticipates the project being approved.
"We strongly believe that will happen," she said.
The overall feeling at Tuesday morning's press conference was positive as officials including longtime Ivy Tech President Gerald Lamkin offered thanks to those who played a part in moving the project forward.
"This community has really come to the cause," Lamkin said. "We're so pleased to be here today."
Ivy Tech Wabash Valley Region Chancellor Jeff Pittman described excitement that the project has moved to this point.
"Given the challenges we faced with this -- just getting the money -- I couldn't be happier," he said.
Describing those challenges, Lawson said she was alerted earlier this year that the Ivy Tech money did not make it into the House version of the state budget. She explained to the legislators the importance of the project to the community and the local support it gained. She also issued frequent verbal reminders to her fellow legislators about the money.
"All those things behind the scene are important," Lawson said.
The persistence paid off and the money made its way into a later version of the budget.
"This is key," Lamkin said of the Greencastle campus.
The new campus will serve a seven-county area, Pittman said. This includes the counties of Putnam, Hendricks, Morgan, Owen, Clay, Parke and Montgomery. Total population in that area is 340,000.
The new campus will also mean additional degree programs and the expansion of current ones. These include health, science, business, public services, logistics and liberal arts.
Pittman said current plans are to begin construction of the 30,000-square-foot building next year with completion in January 2010.
On Tuesday, Mayor Nancy Michael, who said the approval for Ivy Tech was a "pivotal moment for Greencastle," reiterated the city's promise to donate 30 acres of land to the project, located on the south side of Ind. 240 across from Greencastle Middle School.
The land was previously deeded to the city for industrial development and is known locally as Rokicki Park in memory of the late Greencastle City Councilman Mike Rokicki.
Other dignitaries in attendance at Tuesday's announcement included District 44 Rep. Amos Thomas, Ivy Tech board member and former mayor Mike Harmless, Sen. Richard Bray, DePauw University President Bob Bottoms, Greater Greencastle Chamber of Commerce President Eric Bernsee and Greencastle/ Putnam County Economic Development Director Bill Dory.