Aug. 4—Street, intersection projects nearly done
Both of the Community Development Block Grant projects, the resurfacing of Broadway Avenue from Polk to Morton and the rebuilding of the 19th and Harrison intersection, are nearing completion, City Administrator Kendal Francis said, addressing the City Council Monday night.
"Broadway is essentially finished with the overlay," he said. City officials still have to do some walk-throughs with contractor Venture Corporation of Great Bend to locate any last-minute repairs.
As for the intersection near Great Bend Middle School, "that portion of the project is progressing," he said. "It looks like we're going get favorable weather."
Venture was pouring curbs and gutters earlier this week and will get to the sidewalks by week's end. "So we should be finished in time for to open for school," which starts in two weeks.
The bid for both was $1,079,640.50 and is partially funded by a Community Development Block Grant, which will reimburse the city 50% of eligible costs up to $600,000. The city's portion comes to $692,000.
The CDBG program administered by the Community Development Division in the Kansas Department of Commerce provides federal funds to local governments for housing, public facilities and economic development needs.
Guest tax numbers looking good
Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis had some positive news for the City Council Monday night.
"I wanted to share with everyone that our receipts for the transient guests tax continue to be very strong," he said. "The third-quarter distribution was the highest on record. And so it's encouraging to see the hospitality industry rebounding from COVID."
Great Bend charges 6% for its guest tax, which is the money collected from those staying in local hotels. Of this, 10% goes to the Great Bend Events Center and the balance toward marketing the city through the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
'Reverse recruiting' program nets result
The Project Come Home reverse recruiting initiative has borne its first fruit, GBED President Sara Hayden said, speaking to the Great Bend City Council Monday night.
This is the joint GBED-Golden Belt Community Foundation program where any employer that's paying above county median wage can advertise its jobs on the GBED website. Then any citizen in Barton County can see those and try to recruit their family or friends living outside the county apply for these positions.
If the new person is hired, the citizen recruiter receives a cash reward.
"Our first one was Larissa Graham of Great Bend and she was successful in recruiting one of her family members back to take an accounting position at AdamsBrown," Hayden said. She was awarded $250 for her recruiting efforts.
The amount given varies and is based on the income of the job that they're successful recruiting for, she said.
"We've had several people take advantage of this program. But this is the first successful one that's resulted in a hire," she said. "So we're really excited to be able to award that."
And, "I would just encourage you guys if there's anyone you know, that can take advantage of this program, make sure you send them to our website so they can check out more about that," Hayden said. "We would love to award more funds and get more people into our area."
Workforce development efforts hit the road
Great Bend Economic Development has two events in September to spread the word about local employment opportunities, GBED President said. They are partnering with Dodge City and Liberal to go to the New Mexico State Fair in mid September, and with Dodge City to have a booth at the Kansas State University Ag and Business Job Fair later in the same month.
The state fair runs from Sept. 8-15, and the three communities will take turns covering the event, Hayden said, reporting to the City Council Monday night. "We've also split the cost as well so it's lucrative for all of us."
She is inviting any employers who would like her to advertise their positions to contact here. The employers are welcome to come along as well.
The one-day KSU job event is in late September. Employers are not able to join them for this fair, but Hayden said they can certainly reach out to her with openings.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 620-796-2407.
Loft grant efforts continue
Great Bend Economic Development Inc. continues to work with groups on their downtown loft grant and on their historic tax credit applications, GBED President Sara Hayden said, giving a report to the City Council Monday night.
"I just want to encourage anybody. It's not too late to get involved," she said. "I know it's time consuming to get involved, but we're here to help you however we can."
Through GBED's partnership with Kansas Main Street, they now have access to architects that can help on these projects. "So we can help to move them on hopefully a little bit quicker."
But, "we're very excited with the progress that's happening so far," she said.
The City Council in July 2021 approved spending half of the city's $2,271,654.71 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for a downtown rehabilitation project to assist in sprinkler system installation and other improvements to downtown lofts. This allowed up to $1 million with half coming from each of the city's two ARPA payments.
Grants to successful applicants come from these funds. All funds must be expended by Dec. 31, 2024.
These are reimbursement grants that cover up to $5.50 per square foot for renovations.
As for the tax credits, they are available now that much of downtown Great Bend was listed as a historic district in May.