New identity unveiled for old Palm Beach factory

Since SPEDA (Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority) sold the Palm Beach facility to God's Food Pantry in December 2020, the nonprofit's executive director Brenda Russell has been hard at work developing a plan on how it can best be used for the community.

That plan comes with a new identity. The former factory will soon become the new OakPointe Centre, with a targeted completion date of 2026.

According to Russell, the building was constructed by Pulaski County citizens in 1945 in hopes of creating jobs to support area families. The Goodall Company, a clothing manufacturer which was renamed Palm Beach a few years later, moved into the Bourne Avenue building in 1946 -- bringing with it a payroll of over $1 million and employing 300 people, mostly women entering the workforce for the first time. The property was expanded twice in the ensuing years and eventually employed more than 800.

"The investment this community made in itself paid off in a big way as this factory served the people in South Central Kentucky well for 56 years," Russell said in a news release unveiling the OakPointe brand.

With the exodus of domestic production, Palm Beach closed its doors in 2002 and the property was returned to the people of Pulaski County. It was leased to several companies doing various sorts of cardboard manufacturing but by the fall of 2020 was again left vacant.

It was at that time that the SPEDA board of directors, through President and CEO Chris Girdler, reached out to God's Food Pantry about purchasing the property at a reduced cost. Though the location was no longer suited for manufacturing, its 100,000 square feet of warehouse space on nearly six acres could still benefit local people.

"As in many small towns across America, relationships and partnerships are created as everyone works together towards common goals," Russell stated. "…This is just one more example of the community investing in this building knowing it will create opportunities to make life better for families throughout the region."

God's Food Pantry, which has a 40-year history of community service, now provides 80,000 food service visits yearly to individuals and families in need in its current downtown Somerset location. They have also opened a non-food redistribution center providing much needed items to 80 other non-profit partners who are serving thousands of families within a 150-mile radius of Pulaski County.

The nonprofit organization is eager to expand its programs even more through OakPointe Centre, but first the building must undergo an extensive makeover starting with a new roof and windows along with abatement of environmental hazards and updating the exterior.

When the Centre is ready to open, it will house a food pantry, a clothing center and a feeding center as its primary anchor nonprofits. Russell added that the remaining 45,000 square feet will be available for lease to other entities dedicated to the mission of moving poverty-stricken families forward in their lives.

"God's Food Pantry envisions that it will include a life-skills education center, a financial education/banking partner, a medical clinic, counseling services, addiction services, shower facilities for the homeless and so much more," she explained. "The expected lease income of $15,000-$20,000 monthly will be the sustainability factor that takes care of maintenance, utilities, management expense and insurance on the building."

With a significant number of people throughout southcentral Kentucky in need of the services OakPointe Centre plans to provide, the project has gained support of government officials, business leaders, individuals and other partner agencies.

"The vision the people of Pulaski County had in building this facility was one of hope and anticipation that the building would be good for everyone... and it was for more than 5 decades," Russell stated. "Today, God's Food Pantry is igniting that hope and anticipation once again knowing that the creation of OakPointe Centre will bring this property back full circle to once again fulfilling the purpose of making life better for thousands of people!"

To learn more about OakPointe Centre, contact Russell at 606-679-8560 or by email at gfp8560@gmail.com.

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