BEVCOMM gives back to the community
Philanthropy and capitalism.
Two words you wouldn’t think could be used in the same sentence.
After all, the primary objective of a business is to make money — not give it away.
Unless the company is BEVCOMM (Blue Earth Valley Communications) in Blue Earth.
“I think we owe BEVCOMM some gratitude for that,” Wells Mayor Shannon Savick told the council at their last meeting.
She was referring to a $5,000 grant the company gave the city to help clean up an abandoned trailer park.
The money was made available through the BEVCOMM Foundation started about a year and a half ago.
It cost around $35,000 to clean up the trailer park, with the county and city splitting the bill.
City Administrator Jeremy Germann says he became aware of possible funding from BEVCOMM by word-of-mouth.
“With the tight budget and cuts, it’s going to help a lot,” he says. “It’s a great program for all cities in the county not just Wells.”
Bill Eckles, president and CEO of the telecommunications company, says non-profit, public and governmental organizations may apply for funding.
“This area has been good to us and we just want to give something back to the residents,” he says.
So far, it’s estimated the foundation has awarded grants totaling about $25,000.
Eckles says helping remove an eyesore that has been a public nuisance for several years will benefit the city.
“It gives them some green space for economic development, if that’s what officials want, or any other type of development, like housing,” he says.
Grants awarded generally are in the $5,000 to $15,000 range and are considered supplemental funding.
Eckles would like to take full credit for establishing the foundation, however, his company actually got the idea from Cannon Valley Communications, a company they recently purchased.
Scott Johnson, former owner of Cannon Valley, says rural communities are in dire need of alternative funding sources because of the current economy.
“I applaud Bill and Neil (his father). It’s no surprise to me. They have done an excellent job helping communities they serve,” he says. “They know how important it is to keep our communities vital.”
The foundation isn’t limiting itself to projects involving business development and expansion.
Blue Earth Area and United South Central school districts have also benefited.
With funding from BEVCOMM, an introductory engineering course is being offered to high school students under the Project Lead the Way program.
In the class, students discover how math, science and technology help people.
BEA superintendent Dale Brandsoy says a computer and software have been purchased for the course.
“Anytime you can get kids to use high tech equipment that’s a good thing,” says Brandsoy.