McLean Foundation looking to boost economy of Eel River Valley

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

The Fortuna-based Mel & Grace McLean Foundation is taking steps to determine what is needed to strengthen the economy of the Eel River Valley. The Foundation is looking to partner with local organizations and provide meaningful grants to energize Fortuna and other local communities.

"We want to provide support for long-term economic development," Dennis Scott, President of the McLean Foundation said, "(although), we're not sure what that will look like."

A survey of Eel River Valley businesses is currently underway. A presentation to the Board of Directors is expected next month. This information should provide opportunities "to partner with the community and move forward," Foundation Director Denise Marshall said.

Since 2000, the McLean Foundation has awarded more than 1,110 grants to nearly 400 non-profit groups to support programs in all parts of Humboldt County. While still considering all requests, the McLean Foundation wants to do more in and around Fortuna.

There are several levels of grants available to projects that fit with the organization's mission. One is for grants under $2,000, another is grants between $5,000 and $10,000, and there is another consideration for grants that are for larger scale projects.

"Mel and Grace (McLean) left this money to the community that they made the money in," said Scott. "What an amazing gift to Humboldt County and to us (in the Eel River Valley)."

When looking at the original bylaws, Marshall said they found handwritten notes suggesting a focus on giving and support of projects in the Eel River Valley. Two recent grants fulfilling that focus are funding for the MGC (Multi-Generational Center) and Redwood Memorial Hospital.

Scott said the McLean Foundation will be helping with costs associated with recruiting a new OB-GYN physician to Redwood Memorial Hospital. There had been discussions of moving those services from Redwood Memorial Hospital to St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka.

"It's very important that we have a full service hospital in Fortuna," Scott said. Covering some of the physician recruitment costs is "one of the most important things (the McLean Foundation) has going this year," he added.

Both Scott and Marshall say that Mel McLean would be happy with the direction the Foundation is moving.

"We are doing exactly what Mel wanted," Scott said.

The McLean Foundation has adopted a new mission statement and has a new logo. The mission statement is: The McLean Foundation empowers communities in the Eel River Valley and Humboldt County by providing funding, leadership, and support. When the new logo is installed on the outside of the Foundation's Main Street Fortuna office, a ribbon cutting is planned. No specific date has been selected.

Photo by Mary Bullwinkel/Beacon

More grant funding for programs in the Eel River Valley is anticipated from the McLean Foundation, according to Director Denise Marshall (left) and President Dennis Scott (right).