An overflow crowd of Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce members sat transfixed Tuesday as the community’s newly formed economic development organization was unveiled.
SPEDA, acronym for Somerset-Pulaski County Development Authority, was detailed by a passionate Chris Girdler, its president and CEO. He extended SPEDA’s tentacles beyond The Center for Rural Development to the Lake Cumberland Region, to the state and even to the world.
SPEDA seems on the right track to spur economic development in Somerset and Pulaski County. For the first time city and county officials are seated together, reaching out to prospective industries as if to say: “We’re all working together to make you feel comfortable doing business in our community.”
Somerset and Pulaski County, since the beginning of time, have dealt with a moat separating the city and county. The old feeling flared again recently when the city proposed a needed annexation plan that would have increased its population to about 20,000. Somerset Mayor Alan Keck wisely backed away before it fanned flames of discord.
Now SPEDA is the forefront, offering a way to place an inviting welcome mat to businesses and industry that will create jobs for families and young people who want to stay home and make a living.
SPEDA seemingly is headed in the right direction. Its board of directors selected Girdler, a former state senator and experienced businessman who has a charismatic approach that attracts and appeases a boardroom full of business tycoons.
Girdler apparently is on the right foot. He recognizes the importance of city-county cooperation and is present at every meeting of Pulaski Fiscal Court. No industry will move to a community where city and county government officials are at odds. And county officials can get their feelings hurt if they feel they are ignored by city government.
The SPEDA president has a special knack. He had a houseful of chamber of commerce members tuned to his every word during a 30-minute speech as he unveiled the SPEDA mission. A seventh-generation Pulaski countian, Girdler’s love for his home community soothed the presentation.
The SPEDA president revealed a litany of planned projects that will attract new jobs, take care of existing industries, revitalize downtown and move Pulaski County forward. SPEDA has a vision that seemingly will bring fruition to a well-marked plan.
Girdler is a worker; he meets and meets and meets, reaching out to prospective clients. Girdler is on the job; he arrives at his office in Somerset Energy Center before the sun comes up each morning. Girdler is visionary; he is the right man to head SPEDA.
THE COMMONWEALTH JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD consists of Michael McCleery, Publisher; Jeff Neal, Editor; Steve Cornelius, Sports Editor; Bill Mardis, Editor Emeritus; Mary Ann Flynn, Advertising; Shirley Randall, Production; and Chris Harris, Staff Writer.