A local businessman that has experience in working with major companies such as Google, T-mobile, and Best Buy, is back in his hometown of Meridian to make a difference. In 2013, Dwight Herlong founded the Ladders Foundation. With the idea of the foundation being to elevate each other to elevate communities, he’s hoping to bring it to Meridian. “Skills and abilities don’t have a preferential zip code, but opportunity does. So, it’s how we find ways to use people like myself who have agency outside of the city to bring those opportunities back into these under-served communities,” said Herlong.
The educational programs it would provide would be fully funded by grants and free of charge to citizens who use them. These programs would include providing a hub for entrepreneurship, technology innovation, among other things. “Innovating these spaces for entrepreneurship, developing tech-related skills, and utilizing his extensive network and ability to chase after these resources that are out there, I mean, we just have to apply for the grants. It’s a golden opportunity for Meridian,” said council member Weston Lindemann.
Another big part of the project, Herlong says, would be to use resources the city already has, such as old school buildings, and turn them into community centers. “So, as a businessperson, there’s two points on that. One is, it’s about utilization. If you have assets here in the city that are not being utilized, then that’s a drain on the city. So, it’s how we maximize the assets that are here. The second thing is, that’s our history. Witherspoon, Kate Griffin, etc. That’s our history, and anybody that loses their history, you lose your center and your morals. You don’t have a balance to move forward, you’re just wayward.” The city council is set to look into an advisory commission of around five to six people for the proposed project and then to look into grants. There are currently $43,000,000 worth of grants left for the remainder of the year. The project would also look into affordable housing projects.