Chris Girdler

SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler

The president and CEO of Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) calls the present coronavirus pandemic "a speed bump in our nation's history," expressing confidence this community will rise again from an unbelievable economic dilemma.

Chris Girdler said he is extremely optimistic about our future, assuring SPEDA will play a part in helping the economy of our community, our commonwealth and nation recover from an unprecedented shutdown.

Quoting from former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's inaugural address in 1933 during the depths of the Great Depression, Girdler said "....this great nation will endure as it has endured; (it) will revive and will prosper."

"The greatness of America is the American people...the greatness of Somerset and Pulaski County is our people, and SPEDA will continue to focus on our slogan "making business about people," Girdler declared in an email to the Commonwealth Journal.

"There have been pandemics since the beginning of time. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have been impacted by this healthcare crisis. This isn't a traditional crisis - it's a public health crisis and one that is having devastating effects on our economy as a whole," the SPEDA executive said.

"From the beginning, SPEDA's focus has been making business about people –– and that has never been more important than now. I anticipate the next three months will be more important than the past two," he predicted.

"SPEDA is working and turning our thoughts to how our community heals; how we pull together to become stronger than ever. Somerset and Pulaski County are indeed resilient and SPEDA is here and will be here to help our business and people thrive," Girdler promised.

"We need to protect our most vulnerable while at the same time allowing millions of healthy Americans resume the pursuit of the American dream," Girdler continued. "This can be done. It is not easy. It is not without risk. It is not without criticism and second guessing," he noted.

"While maintaining our focus on the health and welfare of our fellow citizens as the number one priority, I believe it is imperative we turn attention to the coming challenge of reopening our economy. America has seen a $2.2 trillion economy shutdown like never before and our local community has been impacted heavily in that as well, Girdler pointed out.

"SPEDA has been engaged daily on various levels throughout the unfolding of events and working with our businesses of all sizes. We have been doing our best to disburse important information through our various lines of communication as well as working behind the scenes on many endeavors to try and assist many businesses and professionals in any way possible," he revealed.

"Mayor (Alan) Keck and Judge (Steve) Kelley along with our (Somerset) city council and (Pulaski County) fiscal court members have worked diligently to bring everyone together and they are leading our community during a difficult time. Bobby Clue and (Somerset-Pulaski County) Chamber of Commerce have done a tremendous job of getting information out to its members and the community. Our first responders and healthcare workers are second to none and it is truly inspiring to see the work they are doing and our community coming together during such a time as this," he remarked.

"Since (SPEDA's) inception a little over a year ago, we have made taking care of our existing businesses our top priority. We feel our community has made more progress economically over the last year than it has in the previous 10. We have focused on building a sustainable and resilient community. One cannot look to build an economy for all sunny days, because when a rainy period comes, it will fail," Girdler reminded.

"Recently, we rushed our inaugural SPEDA Mini-Grant application judging process along a lot quicker than what we had planned in order to get that money to the recipients sooner rather than later given these difficult times. We will be making an announcement next week as to (winners' identities) and we believe each one will impact this community in a positive light and encourage entrepreneurship," Girdler concluded.

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