Years ago, the plan was to expand Franklin’s Ivy Tech Community College, with more buildings and added services, and tax dollars helped buy 27 acres of land surrounding the current site.

The long-term plan was to turn the location into a full-serve campus in the next decade, offering more courses, more degrees, additional staff and expanded services for admissions, financial aid and career planning.

At the time, the site’s enrollment had been rapidly growing, tripling within two years from its 2008 opening in a former warehouse on McClain Drive on the east side of Franklin. Ivy Tech was looking at making cuts, but due to rapid enrollment growth at the Franklin site, it wasn’t facing significant changes, officials said at the time.

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But since then, enrollment at the site has been dropping, from 1,751 students in 2013 to 1,329 last year, a 24 percent drop.

And the number of students completing their degrees has stayed low, increasing from 29 in 2013 to 85 last year.

Ivy Tech officials still see the learning center in Franklin as having a strong potential to grow, especially with Johnson County’s overall growth in population and the expanding need for training by the local workforce, said Jeff Fanter, senior vice president of student experience and communication and marketing.

But enrollment and completion also have to grow, he said.

“We think there are future opportunities for future growth in Franklin. The opportunity is there to move into a campus designation,” Fanter said.

For now, the Franklin location has been deemed a learning site as part of a reclassification of Ivy Tech’s locations into learning sites and campuses. Ivy Tech’s 19 campuses offer more services and have their own board of trustees, while the 26 learning sites have a voice on the regional board of trustees, Fanter said.

For students, the designation should mean no changes, Fanter said.

The site will continue to offer the same classes and is still growing, including by adding introductory nursing courses, he said. The intent is to continue to grow the Franklin site and continue to offer more opportunities for students in the area, Fanter said.

And if Franklin’s learning site has more growth, especially in enrollment and completion, it could expand to become a campus in the future, he said.

Having the land surrounding the site also is a help since it is available to be used for future expansions, Fanter said.

In 2013, Ivy Tech paid $225,000 toward the purchase of 27 acres of land surrounding its Franklin site. The Franklin Development Corp., a nonprofit group that was created and funded by the city, also gave the college $400,000 in grant funds, which came from money in the city’s tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts, which set aside property taxes for economic development and infrastructure projects. At the time, officials said a future expansion was likely a decade away, since Ivy Tech would have to get approval and funding from the state legislature before any work could begin in Franklin.

For now, the Franklin location is not considered a campus, but it has the opportunity to become one in the future, Fanter said.

“There is the potential for it to grow into something bigger than it is today,” he said.

By the numbers

Here is a look at recent enrollment numbers and the number of degrees completed at the Ivy Tech location in Franklin, compared with other locations in central Indiana:

Franklin Ivy Tech

Enrollment

2013-14: 1,751

2014-15: 1,397

2015-16: 1,289

2016-17: 1,329

Degrees awarded

2013-14: 29

2014-15: 37

2015-16: 43

2016-17: 85

Other locations (2016)

Columbus

Enrollment: 3,518

Degrees awarded: 952

Shelbyville

Enrollment: 319

Indianapolis

Enrollment: 21,967

Degrees awarded: 2,603

Noblesville

Enrollment: 641

Greensburg

Enrollment: 94

SOURCE: Ivy Tech

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.