SPEDA purchases warehouse for inmate technical training

PULASKI COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – To assist with inmate re-entry programs and improve workforce opportunities, the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) has purchased a warehouse from Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital (LCRH) that will be used as a technical training facility for inmates.

The Pulaski County Detention Center (PCDC) will lease the 6,000-square-foot building on Thannoli Drive, which sits adjacent to the jail on hospital property, until the $40,000 purchase price has been made whole. At that time, SPEDA will donate the building to the detention center, SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said. Though the building is structurally sound, significant remodeling is needed — work PCDC inmates will complete.

“While we all agree jail should be a deterrent, we should also agree that we should train these folks for a better life when they get out,” Girdler said. “The Pulaski County Detention Center is already providing excellent training opportunities for inmates and having this building will only enhance this effort. There is not another economic development authority or community in the Commonwealth of Kentucky doing this kind of work so collaboratively nor at this high of a level. It is truly a groundbreaking program.”

“Improving the health of our community, including the creation of new opportunities for all of its citizens, ensures a vibrant and qualified workforce for our future,” LCRH CEO Robert Parker said.

PCDC launched its inmate re-entry program in November 2019, a partnership with SPEDA and Somerset Community College to offer soft skills and technical training to inmates so they are better prepared to enter the workforce upon their release. Inmates can earn a welding certificate through the program and be placed in a job with one of several local businesses that participate.

“This building was perfect for us,” McCollum said to SPEDA board members at their Sept. 2 meeting. “We all felt it was good for the detention center, good for SPEDA and good for the community. It is a win-win for everyone.”

McCollum said because of SPEDA’s help to expand the program by purchasing this facility, PCDC can build a re-entry program that is a leading example throughout the state.

“As we all know, one entity can’t do that alone,” McCollum said. “It’s going to take us working together to get this done.”

“Our holistic approach to economic development is at its core about collaboration, working together to create opportunities for people of all walks of life,” Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said. “We cannot forget to provide those opportunities for inmates who will be re-entering our community. One of the keys to recovery is a focus on transition. Providing resources to assist in this transition is critical, and I applaud the detention center for leading this effort.”

Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said the purchase of this property is a win for workforce development efforts in Pulaski County, one of SPEDA’s pillars of economic development.

“This partnership will allow us to lead the state forward again in rehabilitating our inmate population to prepare them for re-entry into the workforce,” Kelley said. “Jailer McCullom is blazing new ground with this innovative approach to inmate training. My special thanks to LCRH for embracing this vision, and helping us continue to make Pulaski County a better place for all of us.”

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