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Plymouth nonprofit giving away assets

After 50 years of boosting business in America’s Hometown, the Plymouth Industrial Development Corp. is celebrating its last hurrah by giving away what’s left in its coffers to charity.

The nonprofit group, formed by a group of local businessmen in 1962, has donated $100,000 toward Plymouth’s 400th anniversary celebration; $200,000 to Jordan Hospital; and, most recently, $811,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Plymouth. More will be handed out by April 1, said Ed Santos, the group’s president since 1976.

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The gifts mark the end of a half-century of work, and a mission successfully accomplished, Santos said. The roots of the nonprofit go back to the 1960s, when the town’s largest employer, the Plymouth Cordage Co., was closing its doors. The Cordage rope-making factories had provided hundreds of jobs. “It was a turning point for the town,” he said.

In an effort to keep the town’s economy afloat, several businessmen got together to form the development corporation. They sold shares for $5 apiece.

“The goal of the corporation was to bring in industry and establish jobs,” said Santos. “It was a slow process, but we’ve done very, very well.”

Special legislation established the nonprofit and allowed it to operate for 50 years. During that time, it helped get tenants into the vacant Cordage buildings, bought real estate to develop, and oversaw development of the industrial park.

The secret of their success? “We bought low and sold high,” said Santos.

The 450-acre Plymouth Industrial Park is now near capacity. Santos said the corporation has brought in 127 new companies and 5,000 jobs. “We sold all of our land,” he said.

When 2012 rolled around, marking the 50th and final year for the corporation, Santos tracked down all the stockholders to return their original investment. One of the stockholders Santos found was 92 years old, he said.

The $100,000 contribution to Plymouth 400 Inc. should help local officials put on an even more festive 400th birthday bash in 2020. Jordan Hospital is using its $200,000 gift to help fund a robot that can do MAKOplasty, a minimally invasive technology used to treat knee pain.

And the $811,000 check will pay off the mortgage for the Boys & Girls Club of Plymouth.

“It truly is a godsend,” said executive director Garreth Lynch, who says it will allow the organization to put $7,000 more toward youth programs every month.

“It’s been great to be able to do this,” said Santos. “We were very successful as a company.”

He said the corporation’s final donations have been committed and will be completed by April 1. All told, Santos said the nonprofit has given $7 million to the community over the years. “We’re just about depleted at this point,” he said.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.
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