Great Bend City administrator Kendal Francis reminded city council on Monday that the council will hold a joint meeting with the Barton County commission. The session is set for 6 p.m. on Monday March 29 at the Great Bend Events Center, 3111 10th St.
The mayor signs a grant agreement
Great Bend City Council on Monday evening authorized Mayor Cody Schmidt to sign the agreement for a community development block grant of $ 600,000. The money will help fund improvements to an approximately 13-block section of Broadway between Polk and Morton streets, and reconstruction of the intersection at 19th and Harrison.
The grant requires a local match for the project.
The engineer’s estimate for the project is $ 1,292,800, and the city will contribute 50%, which comes to $ 692,000. The city will use its quarter-cent street maintenance sales tax to cover the cost.
However, city officials predict that the actual amount for the city portion will be lower, as city staff will take care of construction inspections, city administrator Kendal Francis said.
Funding comes from a block grant for small town community development from the Kansas Department of Commerce.
These are federal funds channeled through the state of Kansas. Great Plains Development of Dodge City will administer the grant for Great Bend.
The CDBG program administered by the Community Development Division of Commerce provides federal funds to local governments for the development of viable communities by meeting their housing, public amenities and economic development needs.
The workforce development project continues
Efforts to establish a workforce development program in Great Bend continue, Great Bend Economic Development Inc. president Sara Hayden told city council on Monday evening.
“The last time we communicated about this, we reached out to all these different organizations in the community that deal with workforce service, and we just found out what everyone does, how they work. advertise and where could our gaps be, ”she said. They have completed this first task and are now ready to meet in person.
“I am happy to say that everyone is very happy to be on board and I look forward to all their thoughts and comments,” she said, “I know we will be able to offer to excellent solutions. ”
As part of this effort, GBED contracted with Gruen and Gruen Associates of San Francisco, California, who surveyed 91 Great Bend companies. Of these, 85% need to hire now or will hire five to 10 employees in the near future.
“They also said their number one dilemma is finding manpower,” Hayden said. “So we know it’s a top priority. We know this is something we need to focus on.
And, if they can help and support existing businesses, “that puts us in a great position to support our new businesses that are sure to come,” she said.
Entrepreneurship efforts underway
Work on an entrepreneurship program is progressing well, Great Bend Economic Development President Sara Hayden said in a report to city council on Monday evening.
“This is created with the idea that rural communities, statistically, do best when they support growth from within,” said Hayden. “We saw it at Great Bend. Some of our most successful businesses were born here, ”she said. “And so we want to make sure that we are able to support this for future generations as well.”
This program will include a business incubator facility, mentorship programs, revolving loan programs and competitive opportunities for entrepreneurs. But, “we’re not going to release anything that can’t be successful for our community, so we’re taking our time,” she said.
“We are exploring all the different options available and making sure to work with experts in the state who can help us define what these programs look like,” she said.
It would also be attractive to foreigners, such as potential businesses, she said.
Data collected for the housing study
This week’s meetings are helping Great Bend Economic Development Inc. get a feel for Great Bend’s housing needs as progress on a housing study progresses rapidly, said GBED President Sara Hayden. The aim is to assess the existing building stock and meet the challenges.
The study, carried out by RDG Planning and Design of Omaha, Neb., Cost $ 10,000, but a grant from Wheatland Electric covered half of that, she said, speaking to the city council of Great Bend in his monthly report Monday night. The council approved the payment of the balance in February.
“We were just asking for funding a month ago,” said Hayden. “We are already moving at lightning speed on this. “
RDG Planning and Design was at Great Bend on Tuesday and Wednesday. The company asked Hayden to form six different focus groups – public sector, major employers, financial organizations, community organizations, builders and developers, and real estate agents and property managers. There were no more than 10 people per group, and they met during those two days.
The consultants will take all of that data and compile it, Hayden said. The city will pick up a full housing study at the end of March or the very beginning of April.
“We’re doing quite well with what is exciting,” she said. “The next step after that will be to put together a housing task force where we can take all the information we have learned from it and develop a plan to put in place to meet some of those needs. ”
Downtown strategies take shape
Downtown Strategies is coming to Great Bend as part of its work with Great Bend Economic Development Inc. to survey the community and develop long-term strategic goals, GBED President Sara Hayden said, speaking to city council on Monday evening.
“They are coming for a vision study next week,” said Hayden. “We will do a walking tour of the city center and a tour by car. They’re going to be able to really hear what our wishlist looks like and see it with their own eyes. “
In November, the board approved a proposal from Gruen and Gruen Associates of San Francisco, Calif., For $ 9,500 for an investigation into the retail business, whose gas has already been completed. A proposal from Downtown Strategies of Jackson, Mississippi, in the amount of $ 30,000 for a market workshop, retail academy, as well as market analysis and downtown strategic plans, was also accepted. .
Consultants from Downtown Strategies will pick up on this data and local contributions, she said. They will put everything in place to produce three-year and five-year plans by the end of March.
The company also conducted an investigation. Representatives will bring the results when they visit next week.
“I’ll tell you they’ve been impressed so far” with the poll results, said Hayden.
City projects resume after the cold snap
The freezing cold that gripped the area two weeks ago put an end to ongoing urban projects, Great Bend City administrator Kendal Francis told City Council on Monday evening. But, “some of our projects are getting back on track”.
He noted that motorists will see work resume on the massive 10th Street resurfacing project (which began on the west side of town) and the reconstruction of the historic Sunflower Rod and Custom Association drag track west of the city is almost finished now that the temperatures have warmed.