FREMONT – The Greater Fremont Development Council Board of Directors recently approved the creation of the Welstead Fund, which was created to help local and recruited entrepreneurs in their effort to create small business opportunities in the Greater Fremont, Dodge County area.
The fund has been named in honor of Mr. Marv Welstead. Mr. Welstead was pivotal in the creation of the original Industrial Foundation which was formed to recruit businesses and later transitioned to becoming the Greater Fremont Development Council (GFDC).
To announce the establishment of the fund, GFDC held a Press Conference in honor of Mr. Welstead at Midland University today. Welstead celebrated his 98th birthday in February, and has spent the majority of those years devoted to the prosperity of Fremont. “How appropriate is it to name [the fun] after Marvin Welstead?” asked Mayor Getzschman to the assembled crowd. “Marv has been involved in this community for many years, and his heart is for Fremont – his heart is for economic development… Marv has watched Fremont grow.”
Welstead is also widely known for his fervent support of research and support projects relating to Alzheimer’s disease and the search for a cure. He is well known for being a determined, stout advocate for both his personal passions and his professional aims. “When Marv sets his mind to something,” said Bill Vobejda,Bill Vobejda, GFDC Board President, “It’s done. I think that is exactly the spirit that we wanted embodied in this fund.”
GFDC Executive Director, Garry Clark also gave a few statements to highlight the goal of the fund. “The Welstead fund will help to complement existing funding options from local financial institutions and the City of Fremont’s Economic Development fund (aka LB840). We need to continue to provide options for entrepreneurs and existing business owners as they continue to come up with new business concepts and expansion efforts in the Greater Fremont community.”
The fund was established with seed money of $60,000 by approval of the GFDC Board of Directors in addition to $1,000 contributed by Mr. Welstead himself. GFDC is open to other contributions to continue to grow the fund.
Marv himself seemed delighted to have the fund bear his name. “I’m real pleased to see this fund get started for small businesses,” he said at the conference, before beginning a story about how small businesses that start in small places can end up becoming worldwide enterprises. “How many of you remember when Valmont was in a double garage – on the highway between Valley and Fremont?” Welstead asked. “That’s how it started, just a little office in a double garage, selling irrigation pipe.”
Welstead told the story of how, in 1946, Robert Daugherty landed a huge contract, but couldn’t get the financing for the raw materials because Valmont was such a small business. Daugherty took his own savings, incorporated the company, and offered his employees stock to raise funds. One of those employees came to Marv, in hopes of borrowing $500 to purchase that stock. “Well, I loaned him the money, and … he retired early as a millionaire on Valmont stock. That’s the impact small businesses can have.”
“The spirit that Marv carries,” Vobjeda finished, “I hope we carry on through our work in this fund.” The Welstead Fund will officially roll out later this fall.