Title: Staley helps build city/AU relationships
When Chuck Staley starts talking about what Anderson could be, it's impossible to avoid raising your eyes. If the speaker were anyone but Staley, his vision might have little lasting impact on the listener. It's no wonder that the economic leaders at Anderson University and the city of Anderson sing his praises. He's made a lot of good things happen in both places. Staley was head of the city planning commission for about 14 years. He currently serves on the Advancement Team in the area of institution resourcing, planning and fund-raising for AU.
"Chuck started working with us on the General Motors negotiations about two years ago," said Steve Fultz, director of economic development for Anderson. "From my perspective, Chuck does this because he loves this community. The amount of time he's volunteered, and using money from his own pocket, in helping us with these negotiations he has saved the city tens of thousands of dollars just in his volunteer work."
"He is very experienced in terms of properties, land arrangements and real estate law," said Ron Moore, senior vice president at AU.
It is an expertise that has been crucial to the future of AU. Some of the property-gifting programs devised by Staley have been copied by other universities and financial institutions, Moore said.
"He pioneered a program that received national attention," Moore said about Staley. "Prudential Resources Management picked up on that program for clients who want to give property to charitable institutions. The program is called life estate reservations."
Staley has direct oversight of two condominium projects on the perimeter of the AU campus: University Terrace and University Village. He has been involved in several AU building projects, including Reardon Auditorium, Hartung Science Hall, the University Welcome Center and the Anderson Wellness Center now under construction.
Staley also is president and CEO of RSI Facilities Group. He oversees the development of several area residential development projects. He also develops, owns and oversees the management of several manufacturing and office complexes in Anderson and Madison County.
Propped against the wall of his office at AU is an architect's rendering of the proposed Business Development Center, an idea that is moving closer to reality by the day. And if the center becomes what Staley and others in Anderson have envisioned, it will be the making of this community, many say.
"We have many strengths in the area," Staley said. "Research and development, particularly in the electrical core competencies. Do you realize how much electrical engineering expertise we have in this area? Amazing potential."
Anderson, with its access to Interstate 69, can offer strong support to knowledge-based service industry.
According to Fultz, the city is very close to beginning construction on the Business Development Center south of The Flagship industrial park near the entrance to Interstate 69 on Pendleton Avenue.
"We're probably a year from breaking ground," Fultz said.
The Business Development Center is an idea that grew from a long-time relationship between General Motors and the city of Anderson.
At the peak of its tenure in Anderson, GM employed over 23,000 people. The company, in its course, amassed a wealth of electrical engineering minds and talents in this area. And when GM's presence diminished, Anderson experienced a loss.
"It was a loss for Anderson in excess of $10 billion adjusted to today's costs. That sort of loss would be shocking to a Chicago or a New York, let alone Anderson," Staley said during a recent interview.
So the Blue Ribbon Committee was formed to approach GM for help in rebuilding Anderson. Staley was instrumental in building a presentation that would convince GM to, once again, invest in Anderson.
"About two and a half years ago, when GM started closing two plants, we began work on a process of finding a congenial way of doing that. At GM's request, we developed a memorandum of understanding," Staley said. "It had about 11 or 12 points to it. We presented it to the GM Worldwide Facilities Group.
"We produced a small video about the impact GM's leaving had on this community. We tried to do it in a positive light and recognize that these were corporate decisions they had to make, but how they could help us make our community whole again. How could GM help us in the visioning process of what we're going to become?"
GM Worldwide Facilities officials listened and agreed to help. The initial request from Anderson for a Business Development Center asked for $5 million and built on an idea that GM itself had proposed in 1998.
From the sale of old GM Plant 19, the city realized $3 million for the Business Development Center.
"Three weeks ago, Steve Fultz, Mayor Lawler and I went to another meeting with GM and made an additional request from the GM Foundation for the other $2 million," Staley said. "The president of the foundation met with us. We had an excellent conversation."
Anderson's Business Development Center would be unique in the state, a partnership between the city, private and public universities, such as AU, Purdue and Rose-Hulman and Ivy Tech, in creating a business "incubator," a place with support and technology to help promising businesses grow.
The building will provide state-of-the-art classrooms where new business owners and established businesses can get help from educators, venture capitalists, skilled tradesmen, industry executives, governmental agencies and technical support personnel all looking to help each new business grow in Anderson, and to help businesses already here remain and flourish in Anderson.
---CINDY CARSON is the business editor for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.