Staff Updates

Staff Updates: June 2020

Summer is in Full Swing at Kaysinger

Sheridan Garman-Neeman, Executive Director

As I am sure that everyone can agree, the spring of 2020 has been a tough ride for everyone. As many of you know, I spent three weeks in the hospital this spring due to a rare disease called Neurosarcoidosis. Work goes on, and I reached out to many of you even while on sick leave. We have an amazing team here at Kaysinger and despite my absence work carried on. The office team picked up where I left off almost seamlessly with our transportation planner, community development administrator and fiscal officer all taking on extra duties in my absence. Economic development projects I was working on in Bates and Henry counties were handed down to others working in Economic Development in our region and the projects successfully moved forward. Members of our executive board John Neuenschwander and Lila Foster stepped in to oversee some staff and to help us comply with audit oversight requirements. I am really grateful for our team at Kaysinger, and how well we work together. As our region faces unprecedented economic uncertainty, I am confident that Kaysinger will still be able to move community and economic development forward in this region. The Benton, Vernon, Cedar, and St. Clair county economic developers all have strong projects right now and have worked tirelessly to bring resources to their local businesses most hit by COVID-19 restrictions. I recently completed and EDA application for Kaysinger that will not only add $50,000 quarterly to our annual budget over the next two years but will also allow us to hire a regional emergency planning coordinator and an additional grant writer/ administrator. I am excited to start hiring for these positions that will enable Kaysinger to assist our counties and cities even more. Regional projects I have been working on include working with partners in the region to create a regional revolving loan fund, working to fund a regional workforce study and coordinating COVID-19 funding resources across the region. I am also currently working with State Fair Community College and the St. Clair County Food Pantry to identify funding for COVID-19 related expenses.

Michelle Slater, Assistant Director

I’m working on sending out our recycling grants available notice for FY2021 this week to our communities within the solid waste management district and newspapers. There will be approximately $50,000 in grant funds available. Transportation planning is a work in progress, but an exciting addition to my responsibilities at KBRPC. There are several training opportunities that I am attending in the next few months which will help me to serve our communities in an even greater capacity. The Bates County Hazard Mitigation Plan has been approved from FEMA.

Ashley Swartz, Community Development Administrator

The Lowry City CDBG went out for bid. Bids were opened April 8, and the council awarded the contract at their April 21 City Council Meeting. I am working on project development for a community who wants to seek grant funds for demolition through CDBG this year. We are still waiting for CDBG to announce open applications. The NAP application I wrote this past fall for the Friends of the Hickory County Health Department was funded, and we have contracted with them to sell their tax credits for them. We look forward to seeing the finished project. I have been approached by several local organizations that are needing grant funding, and am continually researching options for them. Once a suitable funding source is found, project development will continue and grant applications will be submitted. Depending on the project, this can take a while to find the right source for the right project. With the new year, comes new funding opportunities so we’re hoping to find some that match the project. I will be assisting Sheridan in writing an EDA Disaster grant application for the City of Windsor. I submitted two other grants to assist with the cost of communications and marketing, one was not funded, and we are still waiting to hear on another. To help us in our communications plan on how and where we can improve, please take a moment to fill out this quick and easy brand perception survey, we’d appreciate it so much.
Remember to “like” us on Facebook to keep up with all things Kaysinger!

Teresa Heckenlively, St. Clair County Economic Development Director

I helped organize a group that makes homemade masks first for healthcare and first responders and then was able to expand to store employees and the general public. Over a thousand masks and hundreds of ear savers have been donated so far in this region and over a hundred masks have been mailed to the Navajo Nation. I’ve been working with State DED to help survey St. Clair Businesses to determine the effects of COVID-19 to their business so that resources can be developed to assist. We’ve also have performed several BRE teleconferences with those businesses and others and to provide any assistance available. Appleton City has given me permission for AD grant, planning assistance from Missourians for Responsible Transportation, as well as the MPAN grant. The grant would provide $18,000 in supplies and planning. It is the same grant I’m working on for the City of Osceola that has provided Osceola with benches, truncated domes, trash receptacles, and a Complete Street Plan that Kaysinger is working on.

Nick Allison, Cedar County Economic Development Director

Having been with Kaysinger since January, I am constantly learning right now. The first weeks were largely dedicated to training and working with the city and county to establish what they hoped would be accomplished in the first two years of this program. I have attended city council and county commissioner meetings and met regularly with El Dorado Springs City Manager, Bruce Rogers. I am in the process of planning BRE visits when COVID-19 required serious changes to business hours and operations. While we are still considering how to approach these visits, their implementation has been pushed back. In lieu of physical visits, I have been calling local businesses and emailing surveys on the potential impact of the virus on their livelihoods. Business retention visits are even more critical now than they were when we began planning them, so it is still our intention to conduct them. The method by which we do that may have to change to phone calls instead of in-person meetings, unfortunately. I was working on two projects that have since been put on hold due to the uncertain economic times. One was a hotel investment group. The other was a retail business incubator and micro-business education program. As things return to normal, we hope to return to these plans, but it seemed imprudent to continue on with these projects in the wake of this pandemic. Two other projects on hiatus due to being unable to meet. In El Dorado Springs, I was working with the mayor to develop a MainStreet Revitalization group through the local chamber of commerce. We still plan to pursue this project, but we will have to wait until it is deemed safe for groups of people to meet again. In Stockton, I am working with a group trying to develop a piece of land next to the lake. It is on similar hiatus due to the virus. These first months have been productive in many ways. It is unfortunate that so much has been left up in the air right now. However, I am confident that we will be ready to continue our work on these projects when it is safe and economically feasible. In the meantime, I will continue to reach out to businesses with information on government programs and other information.

Ben Vickers, Vernon County Economic Development Director

Since I started in March, I have been involved with multiple projects for Nevada and Vernon County. These projects range from several unique business opportunities to conversations with key employers, and also various community efforts such as our affordable housing assessment, and assisting a local steering committee with developing the Nevada food network. Because I have also been finishing my degree at Missouri State University, I am currently working 20 hours a week. Most of this time has been used for training, research and meetings in order to familiarize myself with economic development and the tools at my disposal. I also maintain contact with city and county officials on a very regular basis about both potential and ongoing projects. I will start full time in June, and I am very excited to dedicate all of my time to making Nevada a better place.

Jo Ann Lane, Benton County Economic Development Director

It’s been a month of learning.  After picking up my computer on May 1st, I began making email contacts.  The first contacts were the Benton County Presiding Commissioner, Warsaw City Administrator, Mayors in Lincoln, Warsaw, Cole Camp in addition to the 3 Chambers in the county.  Thus far the emails have resulted in meetings with the Warsaw City Administrator, Mayor of Lincoln, Lincoln Chamber President, Warsaw Chamber Director, Benton County Tourism, and Benton County Commissioners.  A recurring theme in 3 of the meetings was the need for a housing study in Benton County (which I’ve talked with Sheridan about).  I’ve also had contact with the Economic Developer from Clinton, the Project Manager from the Regional Engagement Team from DED, and some very helpful Kaysinger Staff. A Facebook page for Benton County Economic Development has been created, so be sure to “like” and follow the page.  Plans are to begin working on the creation of a website shortly.  I’m currently working on a Benton County Resource Guide. I met with an individual planning on starting a business in Warsaw (property has been purchased), and made contact with 2 individuals considering opening businesses in Benton County. I also have attended and continue to attend numerous Zoom Meetings and webinars on various Economic Development topics while I continue to learn.

Katie Hunter, Administrative Assistant

I have been working on creating a database in google drive of all of Kaysinger’s past projects and project data. Currently Kaysinger’s collective data resides in a series of thumb drives, computers, hard drives and separate google drives. I have been cataloging all of Kaysinger’s technology onto a spreadsheet with who the technology is checked out to. In addition to these larger projects, I process our daily mail, perform administrative duties such as type up reports and some calendaring.