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One grant OKed for pandemic-stricken business, two tabled
County wants to assure fair use of eco devo funds
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Wanting to assure equitable use of the Barton County’s Economic Development Loan Fund to bolster COVID-19 pandemic-hit businesses, the County Commission Tuesday morning approved one working capital grant for First Class Auto Design, Hoisington. But, it tabled grants to Rodeway Inn and Suites, Hoisington, and Industrial Services of Kansas, rural Great Bend, and set a hard deadline of this Friday for additional applications. 

“It would really make me feel better if we had all of the applications and looked at them, and gave them all equal footing,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “I think we need to be very fair about how we how we grant this money out.”

In addition to the three on Tuesday’s agenda totalling $80,000, county Grant Coordinator Sue Cooper said she had two pending grants under review totalling abount $50,000. This would have left $59,676 in the county’s EDRL fund.

But, on May 11, the Commission already authorized a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant loan from the EDLF for First Class Auto. This would have been a three-year loan at .5% interest, but the business has not accessed the funding to date, Cooper said.  

Then last week, the commission, following a directive from the Kansas Department of Commerce, determined the EDRLF could be used as grants. The fund is part of a KDC program, and the agency has relaxed requirements and urged use the money to help struggling businesses during the pandemic.

So, Cooper said First Class Auto wanted to rescind loan in favor of a grant. It was noted two full-time equivalent jobs would be retained as a result.

Since commissioners had already OKed the business for a loan, they thought it only fair to approved the grant.

What about the others?

Part of the reason commissioners opted to offer the grants in lieu of loans was due to the lack of applications for funding, Cooper said. The county had about $100,000 in its EDRL fund, but First Class Auto had been the sole applicant.

Now, after the change, Cooper said there has been more interest. So, she presented the requests from Hoisington Hospitality LLC, (Rodeway Inn) and Industrial Services of Kansas.

Rodeway Inn applied for a $50,000 working capital grant. Six and one-quarter (6.25) full-time equivalent jobs would be retained as a result of the grant. 

Industrial Services of Kansas has applied for a $5,000 grant. One full-time position would be retained. 

Now, these two

The national objective of this federally funded Kansas Department of Commerce program is job retention, and the money must be used for working capital, Cooper said. The guidelines set by the United States Department of Agriculture define that as salaries and wages, purchase of inventory, utilities, rent, insurance payments, etc. 

And there are caps to the amount that can be granted, she said. A business with fewer than five full-time employees may apply for a maximum of $30,000, and six-50 full-time employees a maximum of $50,000. Also, at least 51% of a business’s employees must be considered low-to-moderate income.  

Cooper said all the grants meet the requirement that the jobs maintained meet the low-to-moderate income requirement.  

Now, these two will be considered with the two pending requests as well as any additional applications that come in by week’s end. 

More funding possible

Once the county has granted all of its current funds, Cooper said it is eligible to apply to the USDA/KDC funding.

Funding is available for businesses located in Barton County, that are situated outside the city limits of Great Bend. This includes companies in Hoisington, Ellinwood, Claflin, and other rural areas.  

Both the county and the City of Great Bend have CDBGs available, with the city covering businesses in its city limits. Both entities utilize Dodge City-based Great Plains Development to administer the money. 

The county’s fund dates back to 19897 when a $400,000 load was made to Delany Feed Yard (now Barton County Feeders).

Contact GPD at 620-227-6406 for further details, eligibility requirements and to complete an application.