Amplify Hancock has been an amazing collaboration among many leaders and entities in our county. It is a rare and precious venture when you can get educators, higher education stakeholders, community business leaders and elected officials all rowing in the same direction.
Greenfield-Central Schools Superintendent
Four school superintendents in Hancock County, Indiana, four years ago created a vision for high school kids to stay close to home for their education.
That vision has received more than $40 million in commitments to become a reality.
The superintendents of Southern Hancock County, Greenfield-Central, Eastern Hancock and Mt. Vernon Community school districts created the initial plan for what has become Amplify Hancock, a joint innovation and education center gaining support from a variety of local businesses, government officials and Ivy Tech Community College. The planned 90,000-square-foot facility will provide career and technical education training for the county’s high school students and adult education courses by Ivy Tech. Many students in the county’s districts currently travel to Indianapolis or New Castle, outside of Hancock County, to pursue technical courses.
“The four county superintendents met in 2019 knowing that, for our students going into technical education, most of them were leaving the county to receive that instruction,” said Greenfield-Central Schools Superintendent Harold Olin. “The limitations of the mileage to travel there was keeping our numbers of participating students artificially low.”
After a planning delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, the project took shape with support from businesses including Hancock Health, a health care network serving the county; and NineStar Connect, a local electric cooperative providing multiple utility services. Project organizers hired the Veridus Group, a real estate development consulting firm, to support their effort.
Amplify Hancock organizers received $1.4 million from the Indiana Economic Development Corp. as part of a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative grant. The funding will support buying land for the new facility, Olin said. The group received additional support from Hancock County Commissioners, who committed $40 million in tax increment financing funds for the project. A nonprofit board has been created to manage the operations of the facility.
“Amplify Hancock has been an amazing collaboration among many leaders and entities in our county,” Olin said. “It is a rare and precious venture when you can get educators, higher education stakeholders, community business leaders and elected officials all rowing in the same direction.”
Amplify Hancock will be built near County Road 300 North and County Road 200 West in Hancock County. The location is near Interstate 70, which is undergoing a study to have an additional highway exit created nearby, Olin said. NineStar Connect has started planning for infrastructure at the site.
“Amplify Hancock will have a transformative benefit for high school students and all residents of Hancock County,” NineStar Connect CEO Mike Burrow said. “The rapid development of technology and the expansive business growth we’ve experienced means there are more opportunities than ever before for families right here in our community. Amplify Hancock will provide them with the training and skills needed so they can have an immediate impact and grow their careers here at home.”
Amplify Hancock will be located within 13 miles of each county high school, and in the middle of several corridors that have become economic development hotspots, with numerous businesses and neighborhoods under development. The facility will offer a range of career and technical coursework, including classes in radiology, carpentry, welding, aviation, medical assistance, criminal justice and more.
“There are a lot of businesses in the area that can use a facility like this to train their workforce,” said Mitchell Kirk, communications director of the Hancock Economic Development Council. “People are certainly taking it seriously. They have faith in it, they see the benefit in it, which are all reassuring.”
Amplify Hancock organizers expect to start buying land this fall. They hope that the facility will be completed to offer classes by fall 2026. Meanwhile, the county’s school districts have collaborated to begin offering some of the coursework to be offered at Amplify Hancock; students can travel between the high schools to take the career or technical education courses of their choice.
“Our communities are intertwined so much. We have a lot of things that are common goals,” Olin said of cooperation among the school districts. “It’s really been refreshing to have these collaborations.”