Staff Updates

Staff Updates: March 2021

Moving Forward in 2021!

Sheridan Garman-Neeman, Executive Director
 The Virtual Walkability Action Institute is nearly over, and this week capped off session 11 where I presented our team’s capstone project which includes multi-modal transit planning in Hickory County and the creation and purchase of a Home Sweet Home interactive exhibit designed to get input from citizens on their sidewalks and streets in order to identify problems that need to be addressed, assets to highlight and bottlenecks impeding traffic, bike-ped, movability and other transit-related challenges in our towns. This ties into the work we are doing with the Missourians for Responsible Transportation across the region, helping communities to enhance multi-modal planning and infrastructure. I attended partners’ New Growth and WCMCAA ‘s Women’s business center grand opening and am excited to see another resource for our economic developers to use. I have been attending meetings in Warsaw in order to assist with the retention of a community facility and other issues. I am overseeing several projects right now including the regional workforce study. If you have not yet taken the resident survey which can be found on our website, please do so! Spring is the busy season in terms of federal funding, so I am assisting several staff members and communities with project development and funding. We are currently working on a USDA RBDG grant for Kaysinger Basin as well as a potential EDA grant. The ED team keeps me hopping with amazing projects in all of their counties, and in Bates, Henry and Hickory I continue to assist where needed on economic development projects.

Michelle Slater, Regional Planner
In transportation planning, we completed our last STIP meeting on February 25th, 2021. I am planning on setting up meetings with commissioners in each county in the next few weeks to go over the last STIP and to address any new needs and additions. Sheridan, Dillon, and I also had the opportunity to spend February 10th attending the first virtual MoDOT statewide planning partner meeting. Lastly, in transportation planning, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of the TAP Grant Selection Committee. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn from other transportation planners and observe how they score grants and their reasoning behind their scores. In Quad-Lakes I will be starting a 2022 grant call in the next two weeks. Earth Day will be coming up on Thursday, April 22, 2021. I would love to encourage everyone to recycle what they can in order to keep our planet clean and protected.

Ashley Swartz, Community Development Administrator

As I mentioned previously, construction is complete on the Lowry City Civic Center renovations and the results are incredible. If you’re in the area, stop by and check it out. Last week, CDBG came to the office to review and audit my project files for the renovation to ensure everything is compliant, and it went really well. The only thing left is to submit match documentation and hold the closeout public hearing, which is scheduled for March 12. I am working with the Preston Fire Department on a CDBG application for a new fire station. We have to survey to determine eligibility so the process will be more extensive, but if funded, it’ll all be worth it. The 2021 CDBG application cycle will hopefully be out soon, so if you are interested in applying, please contact me as soon as you can so we can begin project development. There are 70% tax credits for sale for Lily’s House in Adrian, and Friends of the Hickory County Health Department. If you know of any business interested in purchasing these tax credits, please send them my way. Both these organizations really need our help. I’m midway through this semester for my communication certificate through State Fair Community College, and although it is a lot of time and work, I am learning so much. I am truly thankful for this opportunity and have enjoyed applying the concepts I’ve learned to Kaysinger’s projects. In addition to my classes, I have also taken several webinars on branding and marketing. It’s an ever-changing field, so I’m trying to keep up to keep Kaysinger current. We had our first meeting with our PR firm and have been working with them on the branding phase. You should have received an email from Formation PR firm asking you to fill out a perception survey about Kaysinger. I really hope you were able to complete it. The information gathered here will help with the direction we are heading. I can’t wait to see the results. Thank you all for your help with this. Remember to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn as well to keep up with all things Kaysinger.

Teresa Heckenlively, St. Clair County Economic Development Director

Throughout the county, I have been doing support work for the Workforce and Broadband Studies, and HMP, conducting outreach to schools and community contacts. I’ve been working on flyers for the Sac Osage Quilt Block Journey and adding 2×2 orders. In Appleton City, I met with and provided resources for a new potential business.  He was referred to me from another business I had assisted with. I have been researching ordinance information for main street businesses. I have also followed up on with assisting the Park Board and will be attending their March meeting. In Lowry City, I have gotten information for an investor for a property they were interested in. That’s all the information I can share right now. I will be asking City Council for me to participate in Missourians for Responsible Transportation AD Grant on their behalf. This technical assistance grant will help with sidewalk/trail planning. In Osceola, I have continued assistance with a potential business. I have also given assistance to an investor by way of data and community planning

Ben Vickers, Vernon County Economic Development Director

January and February turned out to be incredibly busy with some exciting things happening in Nevada. Things are moving steadily along with continued work on various projects, but we consistently have new things going on. In February, we even hosted a visit from Governor Parson at two of our leading employers to showcase the town. We hope to have him back later this year to talk about a plan for the state hospital complex and further showcase the great potential of our town. Surveys, surveys, surveys! The biggest current project push in Vernon County is currently the distribution of several surveys that will allow Kaysinger and our stakeholders to plan for a changing landscape in economic development. Kaysinger is pushing a broadband speed survey and several workforce development surveys. Locally, I also just released a housing market survey to gather data on affordable housing options. These surveys will be incredibly important for us to identify shortages in these areas and create plans to address them. I have continued to work on business expansion initiatives. In December, a public announcement was made that Nevada would soon be home to a new Freddy’s Steakburgers, our first new franchise in over ten years. On March 1st, one year to the day when I began this position, we held a groundbreaking ceremony that included the CEO of Freddy’s. We were able to generate tons of great publicity from this event and look forward to the grand opening in late June. I have also talked to the owner of a new business and am investigating what incentives may be available for him, and have also just heard about a new business in entertainment that may get started in the near future. We have had so many great leads pop up, but I am worried we are nearing a point where we will run out of suitable, available space, and therefore should be working on plans to expand our opportunities. I have continued working on community development as well, such as the city parks board and planning & zoning commission to develop a consistent and unified plan for the City of Nevada. We identified stagnant areas of town that should be the focus of short and long-term planning for the city. Moving forward for these areas, I will be working with the city to develop an incentive program that will help fund infrastructure for new development. As part of this planning process, I will be developing a strategy for the state hospital complex on the north end of town, identifying funding sources and opportunities for the area. In the coming months, there will be a lot of meetings and discussions, and I look forward to providing an update on these as well.

Jo Ann Lane, Benton County Economic Development Director

2021 is underway in Benton County.  Several projects are continuing from last year and new projects have begun. The Housing Study continues with meetings of the Technical Committee to finalize the results gathered from the Listening Sessions and surveys before the final report is presented to the community by RDG. The new facility owned by Tompkins Family Farms in northern Benton County hosted an Open House and JBS held 2 hiring events.  The facility will open soon.  While attending the open house it was amazing to see the completed facility with the equipment in place.  This will be a big boost to Benton County and the Lincoln School District. Speaking of schools, I’ve met with the superintendents and the high schools in Cole Camp, Lincoln, and Warsaw.  They are working with juniors and seniors to complete the High School Workforce Study.  I also continue to promote the Broadband Study that Benton County is participating in. There are several individuals in Benton County that have expressed an interest in starting a business.  For some needing financing or business plans, there is close collaboration with partners. The famous African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child” is true in business, it takes a strong partnership between various agencies and individuals to support a new business.  I am very fortunate to have partners to work with. As always, keep watching!

Nick Allison, Cedar County Economic Development Director

Cedar County continues to provide a space for business development projects. Between the two major population centers – Stockton and El Dorado Springs – there is significant work being done to improve the community. Our broadband study is moving forward. Speed tests can be done on our website. The Economic Development team is currently working to meet with their school districts to help disseminate the speed test throughout their respective counties. The development group in Stockton based around leasing Army Corps land around the lake is moving forward, and there is reason to be optimistic. The change in administration has slowed down the lease process, but we expect to know more in the next month. Should the lease terms be friendly to development, one might expect the first development projects to be done by tourist season 2022. In El Dorado Springs, progress is being made on the community development side. We continue to look for funding to renovate the tennis courts in the downtown park. Money is being raised through local means to add a driving range to the golf course. The office is working with the Opera House Arts Council to develop fundraising opportunities to better reflect the mission of the council going forward and is planning a film festival for late summer. We will continue to work with local not-for-profits and business owners to improve upon the assets of Cedar County. Our communities are moving down separate paths that will ultimately lead to the same place: infrastructure and amenities to better attract and retain businesses and families.

Dillon Harness, Disaster Recovery Coordinator

I am happy to report there have been meetings held with Benton County key stakeholders, including the Emergency Management Director, the Village of Ionia, the City of Lincoln, and the City of Warsaw. A big thank you to those who met with me in order to push hazard mitigation along in Benton County. In addition to this, there were meetings held with Cole Camp R-I School District. These meetings are pushing the Benton County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan update along well ahead of schedule. There are still attempts to meet with the City of Cole Camp as well as Lincoln R-II and Warsaw R-IX School District, I am still awaiting responses from these stakeholders to try and get a meeting with them. Once these meetings are held, all necessary meetings with stakeholders throughout Benton County. Ideally, I will start getting important data collection questionnaires before May 1st and incorporating them into the capabilities assessment portion of the plan. After this is done, there will be still a little work left to do on the plan, but then it will go before the Benton County Commissioners. I would like to have them comment and give me some feedback. Then, the plan will go through a comment period that will last one month before I send it to SEMA. Once SEMA feedback is received, I will make corrections within a month. As for St. Clair County, things have progressed a little slower but they are looking up, meetings with stakeholders are nearly finished, but not all communities have returned data collection questionnaires to me yet nor met with me 1-on-1. I have not heard from Roscoe nor Roscoe School, so final attempts to contact these key stakeholders will be made within the coming days. I am optimistic these stakeholders will be able to meet and be considered “participating jurisdictions/school districts” for the St. Clair County Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan update. Once all data collection questionnaires are turned in, they will go into the capabilities assessment. Ideally, this will put the plan near completion, barring a few outstanding requirements that I must complete. When that is all done, I will have Sheridan and Michelle review my work; further, the plan will go before the St. Clair County Commissioners. I would like them to see the full draft as promised to Bob Salmon back in November. At that time, I would ask that Bob and other key stakeholders solicit comments on the full plan draft before the plan goes to SEMA. This comment period will last 2-3 weeks, depending on the amount of feedback and comments made on the plan. The logistics of this comment period will be worked out with the Commissioners. Good things are happening for both counties, Benton and St. Clair, a big thank you to everyone who is helping make Hazard Mitigation a top priority and these plans will be fantastic once they are completed and approved by FEMA

Shannon Stewart, Grant Writing Specialist

It’s 2021 and we have hit the ground running! My pursuit of distance learning tools for State Fair Community College continues with the most recently-submitted application to the Truman Lake Community Foundation for mobile hot spots, interactive draw tablets, and community bookshelves for students to borrow textbooks while waiting for financial aid to purchase their own.  Still awaiting a decision on the Sunderland application for TRCDC security.  The search continues for funds to help SFCC students and our mission to cultivate tomorrow’s workforce, as well as a security system for TRCDC.  The renewal and renovation project for the Fristoe Community Center still continues and we hope to put that fundraising campaign into full swing in April.  I thoroughly enjoyed my first taste of Farm to Fork and moderated two breakout sessions – Food for Well Being, and Food Security Stories.  Truly a wealth of information in our region!  I am assisting the following organizations to secure funding for projects: equipment for Clinton and Benton County Fire Departments; grant opportunities for the Clinton Friends of the Park Inclusive Playground and Appleton City School District facilities.  I finalized the appraisal quote task for the three KBRPC buildings, and continue expanding my knowledge base by attending grant workshops that are relevant to my current projects and grant writing in general. I am working with Sheridan on some regional project development, attending the monthly A-Team meetings where we are diving deep into the MOSource Link Resource Navigator, and continuing my quest to learn about all things KBRPC.  Looking forward to spring and all the regional opportunities coming our way!