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First Farmers adding finishing touch to Ivy Tech main building

Donation makes possible a new portal to higher education in Kokomo area

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Members of the leadership team from First Farmers Bank & Trust recently had a chance to see first-hand the progress in the transformation of Ivy Tech’s Kokomo Campus, including the main entrance whose reconstruction is being funded by a generous donation from the bank.

First Farmers and Ivy Tech leadership who joined in the tour included, from left to right, Kelly Karickhoff, executive director of resource management for Ivy Tech Kokomo; Tade Powell, senior vice president and director of communications and public relations; Gene Miles, president and CEO; Tara Beverly, banking center manager; Mark Holt, senior consumer lending executive; Jessica Rolph, vice president and director of marketing and advertising; Cary Mawbey, senior vice president and chief commercial lending officer; Mark Miles, director of mortgage operations; Karen McLean of NIPSCO, chair of the capital campaign committee; and Ivy Tech Chancellor Dean McCurdy.)

KOKOMO, Ind. – First Farmers Bank & Trust has been a longtime partner of Ivy Tech Community College. First Farmers and Ivy Tech share the same footprint … and serve the same communities. In fact, for several years Ivy Tech has shared space in the First Farmers building on the Kokomo courthouse square.



Ivy Tech’s Main Building, which will sport this new façade and entrance courtesy of First Farmers Bank & Trust, is home to a multitude of support services and educational opportunities for students at the College’s Kokomo Campus. It’s a “one-stop shop” to meet needs from application to graduation.


Once students and visitors pass through that portal, they will find the Express Enrollment Center, the advising and student support center, disability services, testing services, the business office, the registrar’s office, the Learning Resource Center (library and tutoring offices), the bookstore, and the Thomas Student Commons. The building is also home to science laboratories, classrooms, the information technology/computer labs, specialized facilities for early childhood education and visual communications, and administrative and faculty offices and is connected by a short walk to the student activities building to the west.

First Farmers President Gene Miles and his leadership team members know 80 percent of Ivy Tech students qualify for some type of financial aid. They know Ivy Tech certificates and degrees are an important key to improving the quality of life throughout the communities both organizations serve, communities like Kokomo and Logansport and Peru.

And with the #KOKOMOCAMPUSTRANSFORMATION under way, Miles and his team knew they wanted to do something to honor the work being done to change lives at Ivy Tech Kokomo. Thanks to their generosity, an eye-catching new entrance to the campus’ renovated main building is under construction.

“The main entrance to a facility like this is very important both functionally and symbolically,” Miles said. “It is the literal gateway to a better future through education, training, and collective communication.” He said he is proud his bank will be part of that portal through which every student in the Kokomo Service Area will, during their time with Ivy Tech, find a host of student services from advising to registration, financial aid to student records, classroom instruction to testing services.

Kelly Karickhoff, executive director of resource development for Ivy Tech Kokomo, noted that transformation of the main building entrance was one of many items on the “alternates list” for the $43 million Kokomo campus transformation now under way. While the nuts and bolts of the massive project are covered by $40 million appropriated by the State of Indiana, Karickhoff said the “alternates list” includes many additional amenities that will add to the quality of the new campus experience.

Through donations to Ivy Tech’s $3 million capital campaign, area individuals, organizations, and businesses are ticking off those “alternates” to complete the project, she said. Thanks to First Farmers, the main building’s reconstructed façade will match the Health Professions Center being built across the new “quad,” adding to the “real campus” feel.

The contribution epitomizes First Farmers’ commitment to its communities.

“Partnership in the Ivy Tech project represents a portion of the continued bank commitment to engage in local educational efforts in all of our respective markets,” said Tade Powell, senior vice president of communications for First Farmers. “Cooperative planning, support, and coordination in these areas directly impact workforce development and talent availability.”

The bank, which traces its history back to 1885, now serves over 60,000 clients throughout Indiana and Illinois from 35 offices and has become one of the premier community banks in the Midwest.

With more than 400 employees and over $1.8 billion in assets, the bank has come a long way from its origins. Its leadership is looking forward – with Ivy Tech Kokomo as a partner in the future of north central Indiana.

To find out more about this project, contact Karickhoff at or 765-252-5501.



Ivy Tech Community College serves communities across Indiana, providing world-class education and driving economic transformation. It is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering high-value degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities, along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.

Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region serves Cass, Fulton, Howard, Miami, and Tipton counties, including the communities of Kokomo, Logansport, Peru, Rochester, and Tipton.