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Official: New facility will help redefine higher education
By Stuart Hirsch | The Herald Bulletin | Sep 15, 2015
ANDERSON — The new Purdue Polytechnic Anderson will be one of the leading facilities of its kind in the nation when completed next year, a Purdue University administrator said during groundbreaking ceremonies for the new campus on Tuesday.
Purdue University is leading the world in redefining higher education, especially in the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, disciplines, said Gary R. Bertoline, dean of the Purdue Polytechnic Institute.
"You here in Anderson are going to help us redefine higher education. How cool is that?" he told business, community and political leaders who gathered just north of the Ford Autoworld dealership on Scatterfield Road for the event.
"I can't wait for this building to be completed in about a year. ... Because this is going to be one of the coolest places to learn and work with industry and with the community anywhere in the state of Indiana if not the nation," Bertoline added.
The new campus is a collaboration between the Flagship Enterprise Center, Purdue and the city. The facility is being built on an 11.6-acre brownfield site where the former General Motors Plant 3 was located.
Purdue Polytechnic will lease 44,000 square feet and the remaining 50,000 square feet will be available for start-up companies.
The Anderson Economic Development Commission and Anderson City Council approved selling up to $15 million in bonds to cover construction costs.
The bond will be repaid through a combination of Tax Increment Financing District funds and Community Revitalization Enhancement District revenue.
Purdue University has signed a 15-year lease agreement for 50,000 square feet of space, and will pay utility costs, building upkeep and any possible property taxes on the facility.
"Anderson, Indiana has historically been a site of great engineering and great innovation, and today with the help of all our partners here, Anderson has new energy, a new rebirth," said Mayor Kevin Smith.
The new campus will promote world-class education and collaboration with companies that use and promote the latest advanced manufacturing technology, he said.
Equally important, the mayor added, is Purdue Polytechnic's location on an abandoned industrial site represents redevelopment of property that cities across the country have had difficulty making productive again.
"The challenge is to redevelop, repurpose and revitalize those sites so they bring growth, so they bring jobs and so they bring economic prosperity to a community, and I can't think of a better project than we're engaged in today," Smith added.
"If we could go back 30 years could we ever have imagined Anderson as an international destination of choice?" asked Chuck Staley, president and CEO of the Flagship Enterprise Center.
Yet, that is what has happened, he said, ticking off the number of Japanese, Swiss, Italian, Israeli and German companies that have chosen to locate factories in Anderson.
"Could it be the world is seeing something here that those of us who call this place home have not seen quite so clearly?" he said.
Purdue administrators said the new building will allow the university to expand class offerings, and work in new laboratories.
"We are extremely excited about what this new space means for our students. It will provide them with the labs needed for our engineering technology and computer science degrees," said Cory Sharp, director of Purdue Polytechnic Anderson, in a prepared statement.
The new facility will support expanding programs, including new majors in supply chain management technology and computer and information technology, he said.
Red Gold gives gold
As part of the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Purdue Polytechnic campus Tuesday, Brian and Selita Reichart, owners of Red Gold Inc., announced a major donation to the project.
Both are Purdue graduates, as well as their sons, other relatives and approximately 70 of the company's employees.
The donation includes a cash gift of $280,000 along with an additional pledge of $252,000 to be used for Red Gold workforce and student development at the new campus, said Brian Reichart.
Purdue Polytechnic Anderson fast facts
Construction Cost: about $15 million
Size of facility: 94,000 square feet on 11.6 acres
Expected student enrollment: up to 400 students in three to five years
Number of direct jobs created: about 50
Expected completion date: Fall 2016