Fergusons Support Ivy Tech To Help Sustain The Economy, Educate Workers
Steve and Connie Ferguson believe that building a competent and capable workforce begins with education. To support that belief, they've given generously to the Bloomington campus of Ivy Tech Community College during the past decade, helping the campus accommodate a surge in enrollment.
Recently, the Fergusons made a $1 million gift to the Bloomington campus to help fund a campus expansion project that will help accommodate current students and allow for future growth. To acknowledge their contributions, Ivy Tech Community College named the facility the Connie and Steve Ferguson Academic Building in August, 2011.
At the dedication of the new building, Mr. Ferguson said that he and his wife support education because it is critical to economic development.
"We have over 20 million people in this country who are either unemployed or underemployed," he said. "We've got 2 million vacant jobs in this country. It's a gap we have in education and training, and it's also an income gap because people who have an education are earning consistently more than those without. That income gap can only be solved by education."
The Fergusons know a great deal about creating jobs and growing the economy. Both are business leaders, with Connie being the owner of CS Property Management, and Steve serving as Chairman of the Board of Cook Group and President of the French Lick Resort. Two years ago, they were also among the first to support Ivy Tech Bloomington's new Gayle and Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship, which was established in June 2010 to support local residents who want to start their own businesses. The Fergusons made a $25,000 gift to the center and raised an additional $10,000 from another donor.
The couple also supports Ivy Tech by giving their time. Connie represented Bloomington on Ivy Tech's Regional Board of Trustees when Bloomington was affiliated with the Columbus region and has served as the chairperson of the Ivy Tech Bloomington Regional Board of Trustees since the Bloomington campus was established in 2000. She said she believes the opening of the current building in 2002 was a catalyst that made the Bloomington campus one of the fastest-growing in the nation. Steve has participated in the College's Corporate College marketing plan as a contributor to both a video presentation and a statewide television advertising campaign.
"It's one of those cases where the bricks and mortar made a difference," Connie said. "You can see it in the students - they recognize this institution means something."
Steve Ferguson said the growth of the Ivy Tech Bloomington campus has created a special synergy with its increasing cooperation and partnerships with IU and turned Bloomington into an education hub.
"It's a gateway here," he said. "Not to take anything away from the other schools in Indiana, but if you think about the two impact institutions in this state, IU has over 100,000 students and Ivy Tech serves nearly 200,000 students annually. I would guess that if you added up all of the other public and private institutions together they wouldn't educate as many people as IU and Ivy Tech."