An $800,000 Legacy Fund request from the Questa Foundation was rejected unanimously by the committee Thursday night.
The Questa Foundation offers forgivable college loans for area students, and previously got the same amount from the fund in 2013: $200,000 over four years. Those dollars were then converted into scholarships for students who study in Northeast Indiana, and intend to stay after graduating.
Questa executive director Marc Levy says its services are crucial to both attracting and retaining talent in Northeast Indiana.
“What's emerging, and we already know this, is the number one driver for economic development is people as an asset," Levy said. "Investing in them makes a big difference in terms of being able to have the talent for businesses to be able to grow and develop.”
The difference between then and now is the existence of the Legacy Joint Funding Committee, created one year after Questa’s first request was granted.
The issue of a project’s “transformational” nature came into question among the members. Ron Turpin noted that his wife formerly served on Questa’s board and he loved its mission, but didn’t feel the body could interject on the request and would be going outside its guidelines to do so.
He went on to suggest that, if Questa’s community participation is so vital, it might behoove the city to prioritize it in its own financial planning.
“I honestly think if the mayor and Council want this to be in perpetuity, it needs to be put in the budget and not part of Legacy anymore,” Turpin added.
5th District councilman and committee member Geoff Paddock noted that, while that’s something the city could do, next year’s budget was just approved and 2021’s won’t be drafted for another 10 months with a full year away from passage.
Nonetheless, the committee ultimately agreed with Turpin, rejecting Questa’s $800,000 request.