The City of Kokomo and Howard County governments will be among the honorees Nov. 10 when the Ivy Tech Foundation presents the 2023 Benefactor of the Year Awards at a gala event celebrating the 60th anniversary of Ivy Tech Community College. The celebration will be held at the J.W. Marriott in Indianapolis

The Benefactor of the Year Awards are presented annually to individuals, organizations, businesses and governmental units to recognize their financial contributions in support of Ivy Tech Community College and its students. Awards are presented by each of Ivy Tech’s 19 service areas.

“The leadership of both Howard County and the City of Kokomo have been working hand-in-hand to advance three factors for the betterment of our community: quality of place, economic development, and educational attainment,” said Dr. Ethan Heicher, chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Service Area. “And, with their generous support, both have recognized the important contributions Ivy Tech Kokomo makes to our community’s success.”

The leadership of both Howard County and the City of Kokomo have been working hand-in-hand to advance three factors for the betterment of our community: quality of place, economic development, and educational attainment

– Ethan Heicher, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Kokomo

Kelly Karickhoff, executive director of Resource Development for the Ivy Tech Kokomo Service area, noted that both governments have long supported Ivy Tech Kokomo’s scholarship fundraising efforts. They also have been partners in the College’s efforts to expand community participation through the annual Doing the Dream Diversity event, job fairs, and leadership programs. In the last few years, both have stepped up as leaders in two important initiatives – the $43 million Kokomo Campus Transformation and the development of Ivy Tech Kokomo’s Industry 4.0 Lab to support training in the Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration skills so vital to the area’s industrial sector.

First, Heicher said, consider “quality of place” as exemplified by Ivy Tech’s transformed Kokomo Campus.

When the Indiana General Assembly appropriated $40 million for a “new” Ivy Tech Kokomo Campus in 2017, both Kokomo and Howard County leadership were soon on board as donors to the campaign to raise $3 million in community support to finish the project. Much of that additional funding was targeted for “quality of place” projects not covered by the state appropriation. The City of Kokomo provided $250,000 that made possible substantial upgrades to the new campus quad, adding additional landscaping, lighting, welcoming seating areas, and an expanded trolley stop. Howard County’s $100,000 contribution supported the development of the new Community Garden on the campus’s southside, with a new outdoor walking trail for students, faculty, staff and the community.

Then, in 2021, when Ivy Tech Kokomo kicked off the “Invest IN Ivy Tech” campaign, both governments stepped up again in support of the new Industry 4.0 lab. Together, these governmental leaders pledged a total of $1.2 million in funds to be used to purchase the equipment that will prepare students with the interdisciplinary skills required in advanced manufacturing.

And, as Heicher noted, all of this supports the educational attainment that makes economic development possible.

“As Ivy Tech Kokomo gets ready to welcome potentially hundreds of students associated with the $2.5 billion EV battery plant under construction just north of the campus, we are incredibly grateful to the City of Kokomo and Howard County for their support in preparing us for this challenge,” Heicher said. The 3.3-million-square-foot StarPlus Energy plant, a joint venture of Stellantis and Samsung SDI, is expected to employ 1,400 when it is completed in 2025 and plans have been announced for a second gigafactory of similar size and scope set to open in 2027.

“Company representatives have said their decision to locate the plant here was influenced by ‘quality of place’ improvements, economic development incentives, and the educational opportunities provided by Ivy Tech,” the chancellor added. “Ivy Tech is proud to be part of this move into the future and proud to recognize the contributions of our city and county partners in advancing this goal.”

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.