In celebration of the city-county partnership establishing the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) and the spirit of collaboration and renewed commitment to economic development it has fostered, the organization unveiled its new brand and website Aug. 6 at the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon.
“Today is an exciting day for the staff and board of directors at SPEDA,” President and CEO Chris Girdler said. “We have worked tirelessly to develop a new presence for our organization — one that will show people across the nation and the globe the amazing things we’re doing in Somerset and Pulaski County to enhance economic development and make it a place in which businesses can locate and expand and be successful.”
Brand emphasizes leadership and collaboration
The organization’s new brand, Somerset Leads, puts visual emphasis on the way leadership is transforming the community. A bold, yellow arrow surrounded by smaller, navy arrows represents SPEDA’s desire to bring all of Somerset-Pulaski County’s businesses, organizations and special interests together to move forward into a future of growth and excellence.
The brand highlights the ways Somerset and Pulaski County effectively lead — through abundant resources, excellent quality of life, cooperative spirit, innovation, and a focus on business retention and recruitment — making it a premier location for companies to open or expand. This message is prominent on SPEDA’s new website, somersetkyleads.com, and in marketing materials the organization will use to recruit new business and industry.
“We want people around the world to know that Somerset-Pulaski County is the easiest place in America to do business,” Girdler said. “We believe unity and collaboration build a stronger economy. We’re not just laying bricks. We’re building cathedrals. We can accomplish so much more if we work together.”
The organization’s tagline — Making business about people — puts emphasis on collaboration, customer service and workforce development, elements Girdler believes are crucial to the success of any economy.
“Our community leaders are making a difference. They’re working together. They’re effecting change. They’re making business about people,” Girdler said. “And for this reason, when companies and industries learn about the environment that’s being fostered here, they’ll want to be a part.”
At the luncheon, Girdler told the audience SPEDA has already implemented more than $300,000 in annual cost-saving measures and has actively begun recruiting new conferences and conventions to the area.
Girdler also announced several initiatives SPEDA will engage in to bolster quality of life, business support and workforce development in Pulaski County. They include:
SPEDA Mini-Grant Series
Girdler announced a new mini-grant program that will award $10,000 annually to four recipients to help them in their business endeavors. A review committee will award two $2,500 grants to start-up companies, and two $2,500 grants to growth-oriented businesses for inventory, equipment or any other function of expansion.
Development of new industrial park
SPEDA, in partnership with Pulaski County Fiscal Court and the City of Somerset, will develop a new industrial park on 190 acres of land on East Ky. 80, near the location of the northern bypass (once completed).
Pulaski County Judicial Center stage
SPEDA will partner with the 2017 Leadership Lake Cumberland class to provide financial support and oversight for its project to build a permanent, covered stage at the judicial center. The stage would be an asset for downtown programs and events.
Virginia Theatre feasibility study
In an effort to demonstrate arts and culture are important economic tools, SPEDA will be a partner in a new feasibility study to explore costs of renovating the once-thriving Virginia Theatre in the heart of downtown.
Overflow truck lot at Valley Oak Commerce Complex
To address an ongoing problem at Valley Oak Commerce Complex with the large number of tractor-trailers entering and exiting for deliveries daily, SPEDA has committed financial support and oversight for the construction of an overflow lot. The lot will help alleviate traffic issues and expedite deliveries for the industries located in the park.
SPEDA will implement two new training programs to enhance workforce development efforts across the county. Hospitality training will be available to front-line employees to prepare them for interacting with visitors who might want to know more about the community. Soft-skills training, available to any Pulaski County business, will teach interpersonal skills — communication, team-building, problem-solving, leadership and work ethic — vital to successful collaboration in the workplace.
Work Ethics Seal program
SPEDA will partner with local school districts to plan improvements to the Work Ethics Seal program, which will raise the level of soft skills training needed to be successful in the workforce. Students must meet certain criteria in order to earn the seal.
Detention center training
SPEDA and Pulaski County Jailer Anthony McCollum, along with Somerset Community College’s workforce development department, are partnering to offer soft-skills and technology training to inmates to help them better prepare for employment once they are released. Inmates who complete the program will receive reduced sentences for good time served.
Industrial Leaders Breakfast
SPEDA’s Industrial Leadership Breakfast will bring business and industry leaders together quarterly to discuss their needs, hear ideas for enhancing economic development efforts and ensure SPEDA is taking care of existing businesses.
More details will be available about these programs as they are rolled out.