Clinton County Helps New Owners of Ashford Campus

Jan 3, 2018

Students may once again fill the halls of a vacant college campus in Clinton. On Tuesday, the county board approved incentives for a development group called Clinton Catalyst, which wants to host high school students from China at the former Ashford University. 

Board chair Shawn Hamerlinck says the county will rebate property taxes up to a maximum of 755,000 dollars over 20 years, if the school reaches certain benchmarks for employees and students. 

"Based on the increased valuation and the amount of investment they put into it, it's performance driven. So as their valuation increases and as the tax base increases, then the total amount that could be paid back is $755,000. That is great because we're not taking money away from Clinton County residents."

The benchmarks are at least 20 full-time employees and 20 students by the end of the first year, and at least 70 staff and 235 students within ten years. 

"Clinton County is the fastest shrinking county in the state of Iowa - we lost 2.4 % of our population last year. So having an influx of not only economic development but people moving in and out will be a benefit for the entire county."

Hamerlinck says the Chinese students could begin arriving next summer, and start attending Clinton High School in the fall. And they'll pay out-of-state tuition.

Ashford University closed its 15 acre campus two years ago, but still offers online courses.

The city of Clinton has approved similar incentives - rebating property taxes - for Clinton Catalyst.