Staff Updates

Staff Updates: March 2020

Staff keeping up with the Spring momentum

Sheridan Garman-Neeman, Executive Director
In addition to the general administration of KBRPC, TRCDC and CARE, I have been working on hiring the economic development team that is funded through our RCDI grant. Cedar, Vernon and Benton County Economic Developers have been hired. The new Benton County Economic Developer starts in May, and until then, I am covering Economic Development projects for Benton County. Those projects include: Reaching out to local businesses with resources for navigating COVID-19 including SBA loans and working with a company to help it expand to create PPEs needed locally and nationally. In addition to hiring, I have started training the new ED team and am lining up more training opportunities for them.
I am working on an EDA grant in order to hire a hazard mitigation specialist. Ashley and I met with the City of Butler for a work session where we did a grants 101 presentation and tried to identify the city’s upcoming project priorities. We plan to meet with more cities in the future. I am currently working with two telecommunications providers to bring internet to under-served areas in our region and plan to submit a USDA re-connect grant for one of the providers. I am currently working with a business expansion in Henry County. I am working on a business plan for the BDC for CARE.

Ashley Swartz, Community Development Administrator
The Lowry City CDBG went out for bid. Bids were opened April 8, and pending reference check, the council will award 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 coming Spring. 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 an application for a small marketing grant from Walmart to help KBRPC in developing and implementing our communications plan, and we are still waiting to hear the results of this. 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.
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Teresa Heckenlively, St. Clair County Economic Development Director

St. Clair Economic Development has been conducting outreach to businesses throughout the county to provide resources to help support businesses retention. I am updating my social media pages to help create an email list of companies wanting information about new resources coming through the pipeline. I am meeting with DED weekly to learn about new resources as they come available. I am touching base with my municipalities at least weekly. I am also helping a group working to provide homemade masks and gowns to St. Clair County healthcare and first responders who have a need for them. I am working with the City of Osceola on a Complete Street Plan. I’ve enlisted the help of the Osceola Community Chamber of Commerce in creating a Google Map that allows the community to send it and take pictures of areas of concern and send them to me or the chamber to be placed on the map. The map has four layers, sidewalks, streets, ditches, and parking. The map can then be shared with the Complete Street Planner to help write the plan and eventually with the community so that they can see the progress. i participated in a credit building workshop put on by Justine Peterson. This workshop taught us how to help entrepreneurs and small business owners to build their credit so that they are more bankable. This information will also be used by the Advanced Team to create regional wealth opportunities for community members and entrepreneurs. I helped West Central Community Action Agency and New Growth put on the second annual Farm to Fork Summit in Osceola. The Farm to Fork Summit works to provide resources and connections for our local food system.

Michelle Slater, Regional Planner
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 second round of revisions for the Bates County Hazard Mitigation Plan will be turned in this week.

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.

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
I have been working at Kaysinger part-time, putting in 10 hours a week for a little over a month now. So far, I have attended two training events, one focused on Request for Information forms for available land, the other on tax incentives and structures available to cities for various improvement projects. Build VC, the Vernon County Economic Development, held a meet and greet event that was largely publicized and allowed me to make initial contact with lots of local businesses. I have also attended an affordable housing taskforce meeting where the current conditions and causes of Nevada’s shrinking housing market was discussed. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, I conducted over 20 interviews for economic data with local businesses about their responses to COVID-19, and that survey data was reported to the state for legislative purposes. Most recently, I have also been assisting on a MASBDA grant for a local committee that wants to develop a local meat processing facility. Currently there are no local slaughter plants that can complete custom meat orders for producers, making it impossible for local producers to sell directly to local buyers. Instead, most of our producers sell cattle to finishing facilities in Kansas, Colorado, or Texas, which lessens the producer’s share of the retail price. Our goal for the grant is to be awarded funds for a feasibility study that would give the committee enough information to form this local processing facility. In the long term, the committee would like to expand the facility and its services for sales of meat and/or produce in Kansas City, Joplin, and Springfield, essentially creating a food hub in Nevada, Missouri. So far, I thoroughly enjoy my job. I am confident that the connections I have made at Kaysinger, Vernon County, and Nevada will allow me to help the community come together to benefit our region. There is a lot work to be done, but I believe that our community wants to get the job done and make a difference. Going forward I will be continuing my training and expanding my knowledge of our available services, as well as researching future ideas for the area.