Dotcom white knight spurs Glenorchy on

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An American multi-millionaire philanthropic couple are turning Glenorchy’s campground into a cash cow for its community.

Paul Brainerd, credited with pioneering computer desktop publishing in the 1980s, and wife Debbi recently bought the run-down Glenorchy Holiday Park for about $1 million.

The couple – who own a holiday home at the nearby high-end Wyuna subdivision – will rebuild the campground, upgrade the store and plough all profits into a community trust.

Local education, conservation, healthcare and public art are likely to benefit but Paul Brainerd stresses it’s up to the community to decide what it wants. 

The Brainerds have also funded and supervised a technology upgrade for Glenorchy’s small primary school.

Since cashing in his desktop publishing company for a reported $US450 million in 1994, the Seattle-based couple have gone on a philanthropic spending spree.

Their biggest project is environmental learning centre IslandWood, on Seattle’s Bainbridge Island, which takes about 10,000 students a year.

Paul, 66, says: “We don’t need a profit-making enterprise at this stage in our life – we’ve been fortunate through the work that we’ve both done, to have resources.”

Paul says Debbi had watched the holiday park ‘for sale’ sign for some time: “One day she came back to me and said, ‘this place needs some tender loving care’.”

They bought the 1.6ha freehold site from Queenstowner Tony Bennetts’ Humbolt Holdings, in a deal brokered by Bayleys’ Steven Kirk, and three sections either side of it. 

Their intention is to widen the camp store’s offering to include groceries, tramping gear and an information office. Before returning to the United States last Friday, Paul says he consulted about 150 locals as well as visitors on what they’d like in a new campground.

New buildings will employ ‘green’ architecture, he says.

“There’ll be a commercial operating entity that will operate it and at the end of each year it will distribute all of its profits to a non-profit charity which will be a community trust, and that will in turn benefit the community.”

Glenorchy resident Leslie Van Gelder says the Brainerds’ plan to assist community projects is extraordinary.

“They’re philanthropists in the true sense of the word.

“They really want to be part of the community and they want to see the community flourish.”

Van Gelder believes the architecture they use to rebuild the campground will be a drawcard in itself.

“They’re not rushing but they’re not doing things slowly either.
 
“They’re very bright people with big hearts who are really humble.”

Van Gelder says it’s admirable the couple haven’t simply written out a cheque to upgrade technology in the school but ensured staff are trained to use it.