Staff Updates

Staff Updates: June 2020

Summer is in Full Swing at Kaysinger

Sheridan Garman-Neeman, Executive Director

It has been a busy month. Administration of the RCDI grant and fulfilling our obligations under that take a lot of my time, but it has reaped big rewards. The regional economic development team has great projects right now and coaching them through working with new manufacturers, site development, grant applications, website development, etc. takes a lot of time but is a great investment. I am currently working to help the St. Clair County Food Banc secure funding for expansion, SFCC in Clinton to secure funding to better serve its students during COVID-19, and with Vernon County to bring fiber to underserved healthcare entities. I recently wrote our EDA application for supplemental CARES funding and am happy to have secured an additional $400,000 over the next two years for our organization. I assisted Benton County Tourism with a grant application and am happy to say that they received a grant to move forward with a countywide housing assessment. I am currently working to hire two new staff members in order to serve our counties, a regional emergency coordinator, and a grant writer. Management of our team and all operations here at Kaysinger is a privilege, and I am grateful to be able to serve our region during this challenging time.

Michelle Slater, Assistant Director

It has been a busy last few months! Currently, I am working with Teresa Heckenlively to finalize our Complete Streets Plan for the City of Osceola. The Quad-Lakes Solid Waste Management District had their grant evaluations on July 8th and the following grants were awarded: 

  • El Dorado Springs R-2 School District in the amount of $22,000.00. This grant award will partially fund new playground equipment made with recycled materials for the El Dorado Springs elementary school.
  • Meredith Used Car Sales and Recycling, LLC in the amount of $26,077.00. This grant award is being used to purchase roll-off containers to collect ferrous metals to be recycled.
  • City of Windsor in the amount of $10,000.00. This grant award will partially fund the purchase of rolling recycling containers for the city’s residents to collect plastics, newspapers, aluminum cans, etc. This will help divert recyclables from landfills.
  • Osceola School District FFA Recycling Program in the amount of $8,100.00. This grant award will fund the purchase of a larger storage container to support its growing recycling program.
  • Missouri Recycling Association in the amount of $5,000.00. This grant award will help fund scholarships to Sheltered Workshop employees so that they will have the ability to attend the MORA Annual Conference. The MORA conference provides speakers, tours, workshops, education, and networking opportunities. This allows attendees to come back with fresh new ideas to enhance their Sheltered Workshops as well as the ability to share information with those they interact with daily. These scholarships cover the cost of the conference as well as hotel room fees.

The grants have been submitted to MO-DNR and we are awaiting approval to get the financial assistance agreements signed, have grant training and start the projects.

Ashley Swartz, Community Development Administrator

Construction is well underway at the Lowry City Civic Center and is staying on schedule. It’s neat seeing the progression of improvements. Once finished, this facility will be a very nice asset for the community. CDBG made its announcement for its upcoming grant cycle. The competitive application cycle will be open in October and will have a 50 to 90-day window before they are due, so I’m working on project development now with a community so we’re ready. I was working on submitting a NAP application for the United Methodist Church in Urbana, the application was ready to be submitted, and then COVID hit, and NAP suspended their funding for this round so they could reassess needs throughout the state. Unfortunately, NAP funding will not be made available for fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021) due to current and projected budget concerns stemming from the COVID. In its place, the Department of Economic Development has developed the Nonprofit Relief and Recovery Grant program, utilizing CARES Act funding, to assist nonprofit organizations impacted by COVID. Kaysinger signed a contract with Lily’s House in Adrian to sell their NAP tax credits on their behalf that they were awarded this past spring. I have been reaching out to contacts and trying to sell their tax credits for them as well as for the Friends of the Hickory County Health Department. I have enrolled in classes to acquire a Skills Certificate in Digital Media Communications through State Fair Community College and I start next week. With our new EDA funding, Kaysinger will be working with a contracted firm to develop a communications plan and I will be heading up that project, working closely with the firm. These classes will help me to understand the process, need, and importance of public relations, and then once completed, we can implement the communications plan in-house. 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

In Appleton City, I have been working on the AD grant with Missourians for Responsible Transportation. This technical assistance grant will help Appleton City create a plan to continue their work for active transportation. In Lowry City, I’ve added 3 LOIS listings. This is exciting because one of the hurdles we have in St. Clair County is finding commercial properties with infrastructure already in place and these listings all have city water and sewer. Osceola, I was able to get a Complete Street Ordinance passed and have been working on their Livable Street Plan. I have the opportunity to discuss the work we’ve done around active transportation in Osceola at the MoBikeFed conference on Friday, August 14, 2020.

Throughout the county, I have been working to provide resources and information to businesses. I’ve been working with partners West Central and New Growth to continue work on regional projects like the Revolving Loan Fund, Farm to Fork, and a Tourism Map.

Nick Allison, Cedar County Economic Development Director

Over the last months, I have been to city council meetings in Adrian, Urich, and Stockton on behalf of Kaysinger to assess their needs and provide them with updates at Kaysinger. I will continue to make my way around our region visiting other community council meetings as well. I have been in contact with the Southwest Region Recreation Planner for Missouri Dept. of Conservation to talk about trail creation in Hickory County and will continue to work on that over the coming weeks. Benjamin Smith from the Census Bureau has continued to keep me updated about the plans of the Census Bureau and how we can help them in the region. My local work in Cedar County has been marked with success recently. The Cedar County EEZ Board approved an application for a new meat processor, a new welding school is set to open in the fall after working with us to identify funding opportunities and navigate state requirements, and the Stockton Landing Committee has received approval from the city to pursue a corps lease for development. We have helped with business plans, written grants for the city, and will continue to contact local businesses and not-for-profit organizations about grant opportunities as they arise. While COVID made many of us brace for the worst, we are currently seeing new businesses planning to open throughout the county. The real estate market is strong, with people from outside the community looking to move into rural Missouri. This is an opportunity for a lake area like ours to really benefit, and I hope to see these trends continue in the coming months.

Ben Vickers, Vernon County Economic Development Director

I have really enjoyed my time as Vernon County Economic Developer. I get to work on different projects every day and talk to some very experienced and knowledgeable people. Aside from the regular community meetings that I attend and participate in, here are some of the projects I have been working on since our last report. I look forward to continuing these projects and watch them grow. I have continued to work with a local committee on the Nevada/Vernon county affordable housing assessment. Our ultimate goal is to provide information that will improve the local environment for the construction, revitalization, and development of housing for our area. As part of the research for this assessment, I helped facilitate a Nevada town hall with active contractors and housing developers in order to determine what barriers and challenges they are facing when building within the city limits. These developers identified several city policies and inconsistencies from the city that are currently being addressed by the city manager. Their responses will be summarized in the final assessment. Similarly, I helped facilitate another town hall meeting with business leaders to determine what their needs are from the city regarding sidewalks, beautification, licenses, and developing incentives for new growth. I have been working with the Trulaske EDGE program through the University of Missouri. Each semester teams of five students are given community development projects across the state as a practicum. I applied for six Nevada/Vernon county-based projects and recently received the news that all six of these projects will be assigned during the upcoming fall semester. Approximately 30 students will put in hundreds of hours of research regarding these six projects that will help me lay a foundation for future economic development projects. I have also been working with a local meat partnership to develop the ability to process custom meats in Vernon County. In March I helped them apply for a $36,000 MASBDA grant that was recently awarded and will pay for a meat processing feasibility study. With my help, this project has grown from a steering committee to a 501c3 and is now exploring the feasibility of developing a food hub in Vernon County that could service Joplin, Kansas City, and Springfield. We have had several regular meetings with information from experienced individuals that will help guide us and develop this concept further.

Jo Ann Lane, Benton County Economic Development Director

I continue to attend as many webinars as possible to learn more about the different facets of Economic and Community Development. I’m attending meetings with the Benton County Commissioners, City Council’s, and Chambers. I attended my first meeting with the Benton County Economic Development Committee and introduced myself and listened to their ideas and dreams for Benton County. I also attended the 1 Million Cups meeting in Sedalia. A recurring theme in most of the meetings was the need for a housing study in Benton County. With Sheridan’s guidance, a grant was submitted to complete a housing study in Benton County and the towns of Cole Camp, Lincoln, and Warsaw, with the Evergy Hometown Recovery Grant Program. The grant was written as a collaboration with Benton County Economic Development and Benton County Tourism and Recreation. The results of the grant will be made public on August 17. As previously reported, I’ve spent a large amount of time re-assembling the Benton County Enhanced Enterprise Commission, updating the forms and process. In addition, I needed to research past years and submit the annual reports to the state. That has all been completed, and the EEZ Commission has met by ZOOM on different occasions. The EEZ Commission just approved the tax abatement for a small manufacturing company that would like to locate in Benton County.  A considerable amount of time has been spent with this small manufacturing firm. I am hopeful this company will come to Benton County and be an asset to our area. The project on economic research on Benton County requested by the Benton County Commissioner was completed. This project was led by students from Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri and assisted by Benton County Extension and myself. The goal was to know how the total taxable load of Benton County compares to other competing counties with similar profiles and lake-tourism communities. Information on housing, wages, commuting times, were a few of the other topics were contained in the final report. A formal presentation was presented to the Commissioners. I participated in a Missouri Focus Group Listening Session organized by Missouri Partnership and facilitated by DCT. The focus groups represented eight Missouri Regions throughout the state with over 200 participants. The intent of the focus group and survey was to gather information in order to design a way to promote Missouri across business attraction, tourism, and talent attraction. They are seeking additional input and would appreciate any help in adding to the data.  Please use the link below to take the survey. This data is essential to make sure that what comes out of this represents ALL Missouri. I continue to work with businesses, organizations, and individuals to shape relationships for the continued success of the program and Benton County.

Katie Hunter, Administrative Assistant

I am continuing to work 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. I have been assisting with building maintenance and upkeep at the BDC. In addition to these larger projects, I perform daily administrative duties around the office and assist the other staff members with any duties they have.