By Sally Krutzig, Post Register
The Mountain America Center has received a gift of $500,000 from the Teton Auto Group. Teton Auto Group President Mario Hernandez, standing with his family, officially handed off the ceremonial check at a press conference Tuesday at the Teton Toyota showroom.
“Partnerships of private enterprise and government are absolutely necessary in order to make projects the size of this one a reality. We are so excited to welcome Teton Auto Group to our project partnership,” said Idaho Falls Auditorium District Board Chairwoman Terri Gadzik. “They have stepped up to the plate and have provided tremendous momentum as we continue to move this project forward.”
In honor of the donation, the Mountain America Center’s exterior plaza will be named the Teton Auto Group Plaza. According to Rob Spear, executive director of the Idaho Falls Auditorium District, the plaza will be about “the length of a football field” and the width of “half a football field.”
“We are so thankful for the Teton Auto Group and the Hernandez family. They understand how important this project is to the community and how it will aid businesses in recruitment and retention of employees while providing multiple entertainment opportunities,” Spear said.
Hernandez said he has wanted to get involved in the project for some time. He is hoping his contribution encourages others to make similar donations to the event center.
“We live in this community. We work in this community. Our customers, our friends, our families are all dependent on this community. This community deserves a center like the one that is rendered here and will be built here,” Hernandez said.
The half-million-dollar contribution comes on the heels of a PepsiCo and Pepsi distributor Admiral Beverages donation of the same amount in October. These donations have been inching the project closer to its financial goal. In November, Spear reported the project was $2.5 million away from the funds needed to begin vertical construction. With the Teton Auto Group gift, it is now $2 million away.
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