Following a public hearing, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved a resolution allowing the application to the Kansas Department of Commerce for Small Cities Community Development Block Grant funds. The county is seeking up $300,000 to be given as economic development grants to qualifying businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funds fall under the KDOC’s Community Development Block Grant COVID-19 Grant Program Economic Development/Meals category. The public was invited to attend and to provide comments on the proposed project, but no one showed up to offer statements.
The county is eligible for a portion of $7 million in anticipated KDOC funding since it has now exhausted its existing CDBG funds, Grant Coordinator Sue Cooper said. The county missed out on a first round of $9 million in state dollars that went to 66 other communities earlier because the county still had money that had not been awarded.
The use of the fund is too offer small business grants within the county for businesses negatively affected by COVID-19, Cooper said. Mico-grants can be awarded to businesses with five or fewer employees and larger grants can be awarded to those with six to 50 employees.
Cooper said the money has to be given as grants, not loans. 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 program was awarded funding from the from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. There are two programs, Economic Development grants for $300,000 and a meals program for $100,000.
However, Barton County was not eligible for the meals program since the county as a whole didn’t meet the threshold of having enough low- to moderate-income residents.
Before the county could apply for these funds, it had to spend down its existing CDBG funding. This was accomplished through awarding low-interest, easy-term loans and grants 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.
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:
• Held a public hearing to consider an application to the Kansas Department of Commerce for Small Cities Community Development Block Grant funds. These would be used for grants to businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Approved a resolution allowing the county to apply for the grant funding, totalling up to $300,000 to be given as economic development mini grants to qualifying businesses.
• Approved a cereal malt beverage licence for Edgar Jacobs to sell the beverages at the Prosser Arena in Odin.
No retailer shall sell any cereal malt beverage without having secured a license for that business. When a business is located in the unincorporated portion of the county, that application shall be made to the County Commission.
• Heard an update on the Oxford Houses.
Oxford House is a concept in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In its simplest form, an Oxford House describes a democratically run, self-supporting and drug-free home. County Appraiser Barb Esfeld and Central Kansas Community Corrections Director Amy Boxberger gave a report on the four Oxford Houses in Great Bend.
There are four houses in Great Bend, three for men and one for women. Several or the house residents also gave testimonials.