CAN DO President and CEO Kevin O’Donnell and Board of Directors Chairman Dr. John Madden welcomed the group of more than 30 members. Madden told the attendees that the orientation session would give them “a look at an organization that is one of the most important organizations in Hazleton.”
O’Donnell shared a detailed history of CAN DO’s foundation, including the initial fund drives that raised approximately $2.2 million to begin the development process by helping CAN DO to acquire land, develop access roads and infrastructure and build its first speculative buildings in Valmont Industrial Park.
In addition to talking about CAN DO’s mission and operating strategy, O’Donnell explained that, from the beginning, CAN DO’s board of directors was comprised of representatives from the area’s service organizations that sold bonds as part of CAN DO’s first fund drive. He also noted that every bond, upon maturity, was redeemed for its full cash value.
“CAN DO was established in 1956 to improve the economy of Greater Hazleton and, today, we represent all parts of the community with our board of directors,” he said.
To accomplish its original mission and goals, O’Donnell said CAN DO has created an operating strategy where it now serves as a developer, builder, utility owner, landlord, financial facilitator, industry liaison and entrepreneurial advocate. As part of the discussion on the board’s organization and structure, O’Donnell showed attendees a breakdown of the membership. One-third of the more than 100 volunteer board members are representatives of local service organizations and 30 are directors at large. The board also includes non-voting representatives from the county, municipal, college and school board sectors; park association; honorary directors; Student Action Committee members and community members.
O’Donnell said, “The board of directors sets the direction, policy and operating procedures, which guides the executive committee in taking action on issues for the organization.”
CAN DO Chief Financial Officer Pat Gendler gave a presentation on the organization’s non-profit, 501-C6 financial structure and shared how CAN DO earns its operating income through the various lines of business services that have been established through the years and noted the organization continues to work toward being an operation that is self-sufficient of land sales.
O’Donnell detailed the financial gains that CAN DO brings to Greater Hazleton. “Today, approximately $600 million of payroll is generated annually by the industries who employ more than 13,000 employees in CAN DO’s parks. A substantial portion of the total tax base in the Hazleton Area comes from CAN DO’s efforts,” he said.
O’Donnell also spoke of the various services CAN DO offers to local business and industry including attractive business financing for buildings, equipment and working capital. “As a Certified Economic Development Organization (CEDO), which is an agent for the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, CAN DO is the place that businesses should look to first for all their funding needs.
Following the presentation portion of the orientation, the attendees toured the Humboldt Industrial Park to see and discuss the park tenants, CAN DO’s water and sewer utilities including the waste water treatment facility, leased properties and more.
For the 2017-2018 fiscal year, in addition to Madden and O’Donnell, other officers of the CAN DO Board of Directors are: vice chairs Lisa Finkelstein, Daniel Jorgensen and Patrick Ward, treasurer David McCarthy and secretary William Magnotta.