Chris Jones of Power 10 Capital Campaign Operations reveals the total raised in a capital campaign by the Business Development Corporation to gather an Opportunity Fund to use for obtaining more land for possible industrial expansion. The campaign total as of Thursday was $1,088,500. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)
Chris Jones of Power 10 Capital Campaign Operations reveals the total raised in a capital campaign by the Business Development Corporation to gather an Opportunity Fund to use for obtaining more land for possible industrial expansion. The campaign total as of Thursday was $1,088,500. (DHI Media/Ed Gebert)

VAN WERT —A fundraising effort by the Business Development Corporation in Van Wert has resulted in a more-than $1 million dollar Opportunity Fund being raised and could result in 60 acres of ground becoming the next expansion of industrial park growth for the city.

The BDC got together to celebrate Thursday afternoon at Willow Bend Country Club and reveal the total raised.

Campaign Co-chair Pat Ryan explained how the campaign got its start:

“About a year ago, Andy [Czajkowski] called me up and said he had an idea that we need to raise about a million dollars for economic development. And I thought, ‘You want to do what?’ And he told me,’ And you’re going to be one of the co-chairmen.’ It was a great idea, Andy, and thanks for getting us moving in the right direction.”

Obtaining ground for economic development is not a new tactic for the BDC. The group has previously developed both the Fox Road Industrial Park on Van Wert’s south side, and later, Vision Industrial Park in the northwest sector of the city. The fact that the two parks are nearing capacity gave the project a sense of urgency.

This time around the targeted ground is adjacent to the Vision Park, along U.S. 30.

Chris Jones of Power 10 Capital Campaign Operations told BDC members and guests at the Thursday celebration, “I’d like to point out that an event like tonight is somewhat extraordinary for the BDC because they are not a group of leaders who are looking for recognition. They really don’t have a lot of ego in this. They really want to really do what is best for the City of Van Wert, and that’s really been the driving motivation of this campaign, so it is really extraordinary for them to be acknowledged and recognized tonight. But they’ve been a terrific group of leaders to work with on this campaign, and largely the success of this campaign is really from the leadership we got from the BDC.”

Power 10 has worked in fundraising campaigns in Van Wert for the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and the 24/7 emergency department at Van Wert Hospital. Force 10’s Seam Mikula was a part of all three efforts.

“I’ve had the good fortune to work in Van Wert a couple of different times on a couple of different campaigns,” Mikula shared. “The set of leaders who are in this room are really exceptional, and I know we’ve acknowledged quite a few of them today. We work in a lot of different communities, and this is a special community in that way that the business leaders step up, political leaders step up and make things happen. I think to find another community of this size in America who has put together a project like that, so it says a lot about this community.”

Praise also came from State Rep. Tony Burkley who attended the celebration.

“This is just an example of private participation you’ve got going on in Van Wert,” he pointed out. “You have public support, and we’re going to try to help you all we can at the state level. You have so much going for you here in Van Wert. I’m just proud to represent this district. It’s a shining star in my area, and I appreciate all you do not only for your community, but for the state.”

The total announced Thursday night for the campaign — $1, 088,500 — is expected to increase over the next month, as funds have been donated even during this week.

BDC President Tim Purmort thanked the BDC members and especially the investors for their support. Ryan also responded to Mikula’s praise, saying, “He talked about the leadership, but we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the investors.”

The other co-chairs for the campaign were Brian Greve and Kim Braun.