Some folks are always looking for hands-on ways to help others. And service to one’s community can be in big, flashy ways or behind the scenes, supporting those in need. For Ed Kunkel Jr., a service attitude has become a way of life. From the Lacey City Council to Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC), he actively cares for those around him.

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Ed Kunkel Jr. serves both on the Lacey City Council and the Thurston Economic Development Council Board. Photo courtesy: Ed Kunkel Jr.

Kunkel joined the EDC’s Board of Directors in 2019, shortly after being elected to the Lacey City Council. Though he knew many of their Board members and staff before taking part, promotion to the new EDC position meshed with his role on behalf of the city.

“My role as a member on the Board is to represent the City of Lacey, and to gain more understanding as to how Lacey can be part of solutions for support and economic prosperity,” he explains. “I was presented the opportunity to join the EDC Board as committee assignments were being filled by our council members.”

On the Lacey City Council, Kunkel is currently on the Community Relations & Public Affairs Committee and the Utilities Committee. His areas of special interest include small business growth, supporting our veterans and fiscal accountability.

As an U.S. Army veteran and real estate broker, Kunkel knows that success comes through working together. “The EDC is an important investment towards providing support and education resources for small business and our economic community development,” he says. “There are a myriad of resources available through the EDC that more members of our community should learn about and take advantage of, as they exist to help bring individual success and economic prosperity to our community. It’s a vast resource, I highly encourage you to put it to use!”

The best way to experience EDC offerings is through one of their immersive workshops and events. This year’s annual Real Estate Forum takes place on Thursday, October 7 and there are classes, Business Enterprise Startup Training (BEST), and sessions from the ScaleUp Training Series occurring all summer long.

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Kunkel participates in the annual Relay for Life cancer fundraiser and raises donations along the way. Photo courtesy: Ed Kunkel Jr.

Having lived in Lacey most of his life, Kunkel’s personal history and real estate footprint overlap. This deep knowledge of neighborhoods and regional growth trends give him a unique outlook on the Board. “One particular thing I am hoping our Board will accomplish is to help bring new ideas and leads to help fill some of our vacant commercial properties around the area.”

Outside of work, Kunkel’s passion for helping others continues. “In my spare time, I find passion projects to do to support various charitable organizations. Currently, I am on the board for the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument that will be coming soon to our Lacey Civic Plaza. I also participate on a Relay for Life Team every year and set personal goals for fundraising. Some of the fundraising efforts come from various woodworking projects that I do personally.”

The Gold Star monument will be located at 521 Sleater Kinney Road. It is designed to honor families who have lost a service member in the military. The Gold Star Memorial Foundation (GSMF) is a nonprofit made up of volunteers dedicated to seeing the monument come into being. You can follow the Foundation and monument’s progress through their Facebook page or email list.

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A veteran himself, Kunkel also volunteers on the Gold Star Family Memorial Monument Foundation who are seeking to place a permanent memorial to lost servicemembers. Photo courtesy: Ed Kunkel Jr.

To contact Kunkel about his City Council work, simply call 360.489.9533 or email ekunkel@ci.lacey.wa.us. To learn more about the Thurston Economic Development Council’s many offerings for new, established or expanding businesses, reach out online and someone will direct you to the best resources.

Author Marianne Williamson once said that: “In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.” Whether finding new families their first—or forever—home, working with veterans and cancer survivors, or helping shape the civic future of our city, Ed Kunkel Jr. is a powerful, caring, hands-on advocate.

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