Plymouth, N.H.—The Common Man family of restaurants under the leadership of restaurateur and entrepreneur Alex Ray will help fund the Active Living, Learning and Wellness (ALLWell) Center currently under construction on the campus of Plymouth State University, through the purchase of New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) tax credits.
“Alex Ray and the Common Man family of restaurants are such important supporters of a range of New Hampshire, regional and national projects,” said PSU President Sara Jayne Steen. “They have been good friends to PSU in so many ways, from providing support for our students and programs to this generous gift to the ALLWell Center. We are honored with their commitment and look forward to recognizing them as the new facility comes online this fall.”
The first phase of Plymouth State University’s ALLWell Center is an ice arena and welcome center that will open this summer.
Hanaway Rink will serve as a teaching facility for instruction and research in ice activities, a home for Panther varsity men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, and a site for student recreation as well as community skating. The new arena will seat 850 spectators. The Eugene and Joan Savage Welcome Center will feature an expansive lobby and facilities that will provide an attractive meeting place for prospective students, parents, and visitors to the campus and towns of Plymouth and Holderness and the wider region.
“This is an important project for the entire region, said Common Man founder and owner Alex Ray. “In addition to an ice arena, the building will include a welcome center where area businesses can connect with visitors to the area, marketing the many wonderful business and recreational opportunities in the region.”
CDFA tax credits allow benefactors to purchase credits that provide them an incentive on their New Hampshire taxes while providing gifts to the University. PSU was awarded a CDFA grant that enabled them to market the credits to raise funds for the ALLWell project. The CDFA is attracted to projects that show a high degree of community support, build partnerships, contribute to the economic wellbeing of an area and leverage other funds.
“We are very proud of this partnership with CDFA,” said Sylvia Bryant, executive director of university advancement. “Plymouth State is one of the first institutions of higher education to be awarded a tax credits grant, and the availability of tax credits for PSU’s welcome center and ice arena has provided critical philanthropic support for the project.”
“CDFA awarded Plymouth State University tax credit funding because of its positive economic impact in the region,” said Kathy Bogle Shields, executive director of CDFA. “This is a unique project for CDFA to support. We know it already has and will continue to create jobs and expand opportunities for the citizens of Plymouth and the surrounding towns.”
This month the Common Man family of restaurants was named Business of the Decade in the humanitarian and tourism sector by “Business New Hampshire” magazine.
In 2009, Ray was named the Cornerstone Humanitarian of the Year by the National Restaurant Association in a ceremony in Washington, D.C., and said he wanted to continue the spirit of the award here at home by helping nonprofits that make a difference in the state. The Common Man family of restaurants celebrated the national humanitarian award by joining with local business partners in donating more than $45,000 to five Granite State charities. Ray, Common Man CEO Jason Lyon and Common Man Vice President Diane Downing announced the largest donation of the award event to the New Hampshire Food Bank of Manchester. The Common Man name is synonymous with good works across many New Hampshire communities.
This gift to the Plymouth State University ice arena and welcome center continues the restaurant family’s commitment to “doing well by doing good,” a Ray mantra since opening the first Common Man restaurant in 1971.
Alex Ray and The Common Man are long-standing supporters of Plymouth State University, contributing to many projects and purposes. Most recently, Ray provided a gift in support of TIGER (Theater Integrating Guidance, Education and Responsibility) educational theatre troupe, which will provide critical program support. TIGER has presented programs before more than 200,000 school children since its inception.
Professor Trish Lindberg, originator of both ETC and TIGER, says Ray has been an inspiration to her for years and believes that even though he is a businessman and entrepreneur and she is an artist and teacher, they are very much alike. “We both love big ideas and seeing what is possible when people work together to achieve great goals. His vision and creativity is astounding. He has been an amazing advocate for the arts and his support has made all the difference in many of our productions.”