Education committee chairman Dr. J. Paul Ferguson told the board that the annual operating budget for the two programs will be nearly half a million dollars. He said start-up capital expenses would total about $180,000.
“It’s unprecedented in this market,” said Tom Whitworth, corporation board member and headmaster at Darlington. “We’ve got to have some really good friends.”
Ferguson said the corporation would undoubtedly need to look at retaining some outside expertise in fundraising.
“It’s highly unlikely that our estimates are going to go down,” Ferguson said. “Unless I hear some member of the board say I’ll take care of that then we are going to have to look for some other outside funds.”
Thus far the Georgia Power Foundation has kicked in $35,000. Ferguson mentioned several other foundations that might be targets for help, including the Woodruff Foundation, Coca-Cola, The Cousins Family Foundation, the Gates Foundation and the Buffet Foundation.
“We think that this is a very unique partnership between the South Rome Redevelopment Corp., the Rome City Schools, Berry College, Georgia Northwestern Technical College and strong support from the Darlington School,” Ferguson said.
Joe Montgomery, a Darlington executive who will join the board in January, said he did have a few ideas but cautioned the board that such a major fundraising endeavor will take time.
“Nothing happens quickly,” Montgomery said.
At that point during the discussion, Ferguson pointed out that one of the things major foundations would look at is the financial commitment from the corporation’s board of directors. The board agreed unanimously to provide that support for the project.
In other business, South Rome Redevelopment Director Melissa Jones reported that 76 of the 77 units at Etowah Terrace Senior Residences have been leased and that three applications for the one remaining unit are out for review.
“It’s just a matter of whose application comes back OK the first,” Jones said.