FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A recently formed committee has found its first two projects to support with coveted Legacy dollars. The nine-member Legacy Joint Funding Committee recommended projects that total $1.8 million to the Fort Wayne City Council.
The committee unanimously voted to recommend a million dollars goes to help Parkview Health with its Life Science Education & Research Center, which has teamed up with Huntington University and Trine University to bring education programs in physical therapy and occupational therapy to its Randallia campus.
“The committee’s support to invest in education, especially there on the Randallia campus, it’s very exciting,” said Sue Ehinger, Chief Experience Officer at Parkview Health.
Ehinger said Parkview and the two universities invested equally in the $3.8 million project. She added that the graduates have a good chance at staying in the area, due to a high demand for professionals in those fields.
“This is bringing new educational programs into our community,” said Ehinger, who said the two universities will eventually have 400 students on the campus. Plus another 100 students from Fort Wayne Community Schools, if things go as planned. “It’s hard to get into some healthcare programs because your class size has to be limited in order to have that good experience. This expands the access to these programs. It also brings new talent into the community.”
Leaders with Parkview estimated that the new programs will translate to a $7.2 million increase in economic impact.
Ehinger said it should be easier to expand to more programs in the future, since the two universities have been working together and are sharing space.
In a 6-3 vote, with Al Moll, Ron Turpin, and Tom Smith (R-1st) all voting no, the World Baseball Academy (WBA) got one step closer to getting funds to help build new baseball diamonds.
The Academy would use the funds as part of a $3.2 million project to build three fields with artificial surfaces in the infield. Leaders with the Academy have said the new ball fields will bring more teams, tournaments, and money to Fort Wayne.
“We’ve been confident that our message has been strong since day one,” said WBA CEO Caleb Kimmel after learning the committee would recommend the project to city council. “The impact it’s going to have on young people here in Fort Wayne is important, and we know this community cares about its youth and families.
The WBA has estimated that the three new youth fields, and a collegiate-sized ball field, would lead to more than a $20 million economic impact over a ten year span.
Like all potential Legacy projects, the committee wants to see each Legacy dollar have 3-to-1 match. The WBA has said its raised more than $700,000 so far for the three new fields, and Kimmel said the committee’s support will help make the new fields a reality.
“Nothing comes easy when it comes to fundraising,” Kimmel told NewsChannel 15. “We know with a yes vote from Legacy and an official approval of that $800,000 that’s going to be a big confidence boost with all the foundations and donors to help us.”
Ron Turpin, who chairs the Legacy Joint Funding Committee, said he’s not sure when the committee’s recommendations would make their way to city council.
On Wednesday night, the committee set new parameters for what projects would get approved. Each member of the committee independently scores a potential project, based off their concept letter. The committee voted to consider projects that score a 3.5 on a 5.0 scale.
The committee had reviewed ten projects before Wednesday’s meeting. No project scored higher than a 1.8. The lowest-scoring project totaled 0.4.
“A lot of those were operational in scope, and council has told us that is not Legacy appropriate,” said Turpin. “Legacy is more for one-time capital granting.”
The committee is scheduling a workshop in February to help organizations and businesses make better proposals.