Grand Canyon U. expanding; TREO makes local pitch

2013-02-23T00:00:00Z Grand Canyon U. expanding; TREO makes local pitchGabriela Rico Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 23, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Tucson is one of four sites being considered for a new Christian university.

Grand Canyon University hopes to open in the fall of 2014 with 1,000 students and 250 employees, said Bill Jenkins, the university's vice president of communications and public affairs.

Once built out in 2020, the campus could have up to 6,000 students and 1,000 employees, he said.

Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities Inc., which approached Grand Canyon after hearing of the school's expansion plans, believes Tucson has a good shot at landing the new campus.

"By no means do we have this in the bag, but we're definitely in the game," said Joe Snell, TREO's CEO. "We're going to propose compelling sites with great access to draw students from."

He said TREO will showcase three sites in the Tucson area for the new campus.

Snell said he could not disclose the location of the sites, but said one of them is within the Tucson city limits.

What incentives the municipalities will offer is also confidential at this point, he said.

"We will come in, as a region, with an aggressive value proposition that is as competitive as anyone's," Snell said.

Jenkins said Grand Canyon does not have an incentives wish list.

"The key will be the various sites that might be available to build that campus," he said.

TREO has until Monday to submit its proposal, and Jenkins said the university is eager to make a decision and break ground by July.

The other sites being considered are in the Phoenix area's East Valley, Albuquerque and Las Vegas.

Snell, using a multiplier formula, said that when fully built out, the campus could have an economic impact on the region of up to $1.6 billion.

Grand Canyon's current campus is in Phoenix.

The university is looking for 75 to 100 acres to construct four or five 80,000-square-foot classroom buildings and some recreation facilities, Jenkins said.

There will not be any dormitories initially, but the school wants a piece of land large enough to build them if there is demand.

Tuition at the private school is about $16,000 a year, and it has an "extensive scholarship program" based on grades, Jenkins said.

Beginning this fall, Grand Canyon will move into the Division I Western Athletic Conference. It has 22 NCAA sports, and athletes will still attend the Phoenix campus.

The school was founded in 1949.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at grico@azstartnet.com or 573-4232.

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