Girdler: SPEDA looks at economic development through a new lens

BILL MARDIS I CJ

Chris Girdler, president and CEO of SPEDA (Somerset-Pulaski County Development Authority) tells members of Somerset Kiwanis Club SPEDA is a little more than a month away from launching, marketing and selling the agency to the community and the world.

The president and CEO of SPEDA (Somerset-Pulaski County Development Authority) told members of Somerset Kiwanis Club Thursday the newly formed industrial development agency is a little more than a month away from launching, branding, marketing and selling SPEDA to the community and the world.

Chris Girdler said transition of SPEDA and Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation is complete. He praised the new board of directors who will guide SPEDA as a diverse group representing all walks of life. "I'm grateful to have an opportunity to lead this group ... I love Somerset and Pulaski County ... I'm passionate about this community," Girdler declared.

"We are looking at economic development through a new lens," he said. "We're looking at the overall quality of life ... the big picture, overall community planning, workforce development ... and existing businesses," Girdler declared. He said existing businesses and development of the workforce will be top priorities of SPEDA.

Commenting that 71 percent of students here and elsewhere are not qualified to serve in the military because of educational and physical deficiencies, Girdler said " .... we have to step in, fill the gap and improve the workforce. We have to make sure we put our best foot forward as a community."

Girdler called Lake Cumberland Regional Airport "our window to the world." He reeled off a list of conventions and visitors to this community, many flying into the airport.

He said the planned cloverleaf interchange at Ky. 80 and Ky. 461 is a game changer. "They have over 1,000 trucks per week in and out of Valley Oak industrial and technological parks and have been experiencing problems for many years, such as congestion, safety hazards, traffic accidents, litter and trash, etc. ... SPEDA is stepping up to the plate to help and assist our existing industries with this issue." He said two industrial prospects are currently "looking" at the Valley Oak industrial and technological complexes as possible locations.

The SPEDA president revealed a new industrial park will be developed off East Ky. 80 near the corridor of the still uncompleted northern bypass of Somerset. "It's farmland now but it will be developed," he said. Girdler compared Somerset's bypasses, when the northern bypass is complete, to New Circle Road in Lexington

The SPEDA president also noted local officials are in conversation with General Electric brass about purchasing the vacant Somerset Glass Plant property off University Drive to develop an industrial park.

Concerning planned promotion and agressive economic development activities of SPEDA, Girdler said " ...I hope a year from now not a single person will ask what SPEDA does."

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