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Capital Construction - KEEP NH
In 2005, the State Legislature passed legislation that would help fund a number of high priority renovation and modernization projects across the University System of New Hampshire (USNH). House Bill 25 included $109.5 million in capital budget funding over the next four biennia (eight years) to support key projects requested by USNH as part of the System's Knowledge Economy Education Plan (KEEP).
The Knowledge Economy Education Plan for New Hampshire, introduced in January, 2001, initially sought state bonding totaling $185 million to complete a six-year package of capital renovations to the system's aging science, engineering and high technology facilities. In 2001, the Legislature appropriated $100 million in capital funds to support the first phase of the KEEP initiatives. The funds included in the 2005 legislation represent the balance of the request, adjusted for inflation and the lengthened time period from what was envisioned in the original request.
The Goals of KEEP-NH
1. Modernize, renovate and expand existing USNH academic facilities, particularly in the fields of science, technology and engineering.
2. Keep New Hampshire's University System competitive and affordable while sustaining NH's low tax environment.
3. Complete previously approved building and renovation projects.
KEEP-NH was crafted by USNH Trustees and staff in response to the growing need for well-educated workers and teachers so urgently needed to sustain and grow the "Knowledge Economy."
Fueling the Knowledge Economy
- NH has the second-highest percentage of high-tech employment in the country.
- High-tech employment is growing in NH, but not as fast as other states due to skilled labor shortages.
The initial funding for KEEP New Hampshire has enabled USNH to complete four major projects: the renovation and expansion of Mason Library and the complete renovation of the Science Center at Keene State College (KSC); the full renovation of the science facility Boyd Hall at Plymouth State University (PSU); and the renovation and upgrade of Murkland Hall at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Durham campus. A fifth project - the renovation and expansion of Kingsbury Hall at UNH - is scheduled for completion in 2007.
The first round of KEEP funds has already made a positive impact on the system. UNH, PSU, and KSC have seen increases in applications to programs in science, engineering, and technology. The state support has leveraged significant private and corporate gifts at all three institutions and has helped the institutions secure additional research grants as well.
KEEP funds are supporting renovations at DeMeritt Hall, James Hall, and Parsons Hall at UNH, campus infrastructure improvements at KSC and PSU, upgrades to a digital broadcasting platform at New Hampshire Public Television, "University Centers" (focusing on collaborative efforts with the NH Community Technical College System) and planning funds for renovation of Nesmith Hall at UNH, a media arts center at KSC, and a physical education center at PSU.
USNH plans to invest more than $500 million in significant renovation, rehabilitation, and construction projects between 2004 and 2011. Of this amount, less than 30% is being requested from the State, and USNH will self-fund the remainder.