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City applies for COVID-19 grant funding
Program would allow grants for eco devo, food programs
city covid grants
The Great Bend City Council Monday night held public hearings on applying for Kansas Department of Commerce’s Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 Grant Program to help businesses and meal programs.

The Great Bend City Council Monday night approved resolutions authorizing City Administrator Kendal Francis to apply for Kansas Department of Commerce’s Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 Grant Program funding. The action followed public hearings over the applications. 

There are two categories, small business grants and a food program, and hearings had to be held for each as mandated by the KDOC.  

With the small business grants, the maximum amount the city could receive is $300,000 with no cost to the city, Francis said. For the meals program, the cap would be $100,000.

Francis reported that the KDOC has been awarded funding from the from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.  

“One portion is for economic development to provide micro grants to businesses for working capital,” Francis said.

The eco devo grants are to offer small business grants within the county for businesses negatively affected by COVID-19, Francis said. The grants must be used for inventory, working capital and costs related to dealing with the pandemic, and employees of the applicants must meet low- to moderate-income requirements. 

“The second portion of it is for meal programs, and that is to provide funding to help cover the cost of food to some of the non-profit community outreach programs such as Meals on Wheels,” he said.

“Now there is one caveat,” Francis said. “The first round of funding of $9 million has been awarded already.”

It was announced earlier this month that those funds went to 66 Kansas communities. “However, in conversations with the Department of Commerce, they said to move forward and apply because they are expecting a second round of funding.”

This round could be as much as $7 million. But, it is not a sure thing.

Looking at the first round of awards, there were no awards greater than $167,000. “So we will request the maximum allotted, but I would not anticipate receiving that.”   

Francis said he had conversations with the Barton County Grant Administrator Sue Cooper about these grant programs. She did offer to administer with the meals program.

But, the economic development grant would be too much for her to take on, Francis said. So, the city is going through a procurement process to find an administrator for the economic development portion.  

Before the city could apply for second-round funds, it had to spend down its existing CDBG funding. This was accomplished through awarding low-interest, easy-term loans of $15,000 to several local businesses. 

The KDC had eased restrictions on giving the loans to encourage municipalities to use them for bolstering businesses during the pandemic.

The city missed the first round application deadline since it still had un-awarded funding.

Dodge City-based Great Plains Development served as the city’s administrator for its original CDBG funds. It is possible it will seek to manage the city’s round-two eco devo grant should it be approved.