BLAIR, Neb. — Allan E. Baer wants the energy efficiency institute he is planning for the former Dana College campus to get off on the right foot, so he is inviting his new neighbors for a visit.
The Renewable Nations Institute Inc., a Nebraska-based nonprofit organization, is holding a two-hour town hall meeting at 6 p.m. April 10 to present an overview of the redevelopment plans for the Dana College campus. The meeting will be held in the Forum at the Durham Classroom Center on campus. Advance registration is requested at the Renewable Nations Institute website.
"There have been a lot of rumors circulating, and we thought it would be best to give everyone a clear summary of what our program is about," said Baer, who is not related to the family that founded the now-defunct Brandeis department store chain.
Baer, the institute's founder and president, is set to sign a purchase agreement Monday to buy the 150-acre campus for $5.9 million. He expects to complete the purchase in 30 to 60 days.
Dana College closed in 2010 under the weight of $11 million in debt. The court-appointed receiver, Mark Wagner of Cordes & Co. in Greenwood Village, Colo., confirmed the agreement with Baer and the purchase price.
"We've kept all parties informed, including the bond holders, city officials and Dana College," Wagner said. "It's always a good feeling when a project comes to an end, especially if the result is good for the bond holders, creditors and, hopefully, the City of Blair."
The Blair City Council has given preliminary approval to issue development tax-exempt revenue bonds not to exceed $25 million for the institute to acquire and develop the former college campus.
Baer said the institute "will leverage America's high-performing undergraduate and graduate students" to support national planning for a transition to a low-carbon economy — with minimal output of greenhouse gas emissions — in the United States and developing countries. The institute is modeled after the U.S. Department of Energy's Industrial Assessment Centers program.
Students at the institute will work 20 hours a week and spend 30 additional hours a week in classes, seminars, workshops and conferences.
Baer expects the institute to expand the Industrial Assessment program to 90 university-based engineering schools within five years, resulting in more than 4,300 full-time equivalent jobs per year in the green economy, based on an estimated annual contract value of $127 million.
Baer discussed the institute Friday during a round table of the Clinton Global Initiative University meeting in Washington, D.C. He also briefed former President Bill Clinton on the mission of the institute.
"I feel great about all the hard work we've put in to get to this point," Baer said. "Mark (Wagner) has been wonderful to work with and the people of Blair have been terrific."
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