With a desire to create more opportunities for public-private partnerships, the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) has established a charitable foundation that will raise money for community initiatives.
The SPEDA Community Foundation is a certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that accepts donations from residents and businesses to advance local projects. SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said when applying for grant funding to complete a new mural downtown last year, he discovered the need for having a non-profit organization that can be a partner in applying for and raising funds to complete a project.
"We've learned time and time again that to get things done, you've got to get things done," Girdler said. "We want to be innovative and creative in our way of trying to get things done on behalf of the community. By creating the foundation we can now offer a vehicle for pinpointing and targeting projects, initiatives and endeavors and raising private donations to help accomplish them."
The foundation will build public-private partnerships in the community to advance these projects, Girdler said, because it offers a tax-deductible way for businesses and residents to contribute.
"We see value in our organization being able to partner with others in the community on multiple levels," Girdler said. "Entities like ours should seek out opportunities to collaborate with the private sector in any way possible. This is truly unique for an economic development organization and it's another way we are living up to our motto of making business about people."
The first project the foundation will contribute to will be a veterans' park in downtown Somerset, for which SPEDA has already raised more than $30,000 through a Whiskey & War Stories public luncheon and private event last fall. The events were a community celebration to welcome Horse Soldier Bourbon, a company founded by members of the first U.S. Army Special Forces unit to enter Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that will begin building a distillery in Somerset-Pulaski County in the coming year.
"I can't think of a better project to kick off the SPEDA Community Foundation with than the veterans' park downtown," Girdler said.
More details on the park are coming soon.
SPEDA's board of directors will choose future projects the community foundation supports, Girdler said, and SPEDA will strive to match contributions the foundation makes to those projects at a level to be determined.
Anyone can make a donation to the SPEDA Community Foundation by visiting https://somersetkyleads.com/speda-community-foundation/ and clicking the "Donate Now" button, or by contacting Girdler at (606) 425-5409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.