The Cloud County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the 2015 May Slate Selection for the Get in the Cloud small business grant program administered by CloudCorp. Seven applications were considered by the Get in the Cloud Grant Committee and six were funded.
Blake Wolf of Ringneck Kennels will be building a new facility to accommodate a larger number of training dogs. The new facility will allow him to expand his training base as well as provide adequate room to host training seminars and clinics. He is currently unable to host these events due to inadequate room. The expansion will give him the opportunity to include a retail store where he will sell training equipment, toys, personalized dog items, and specialized food. The building will more than double his current facility, creating a need for one or more full time employees including a kennel attendant and full service groomer. The committee funded this project at $25,000.
Paul McNutt of Paul’s Tree Care requested funds to assist in building a workshop, office and storage center. He is planning on building a new building to provide a space for doing maintenance on equipment, shop space for in-house repairs, and office space for a full time office assistant. The building will also protect the equipment from the elements. The McNutts believe this building will allow them to minimize their down time with equipment problems and enable them to provide prompt service to their customers, especially when severe weather hits. The committee recommended $10,000 in grant funds for this project.
Troy LeDuc and his daughter Missy of LeDuc Memorial plan to build a large shop with a connecting hallway to their existing building. This shop will be built in the east lot adjacent to their current facility. They plan to extend their concrete driveway to the east front of the new shop to offer additional customer parking and a display area for model examples of memorial markers and stones, as well as limestone products. The new building will allow them to increase their inventory and storage and allow additional space for equipment and materials. They have recently added limestone products, including name rocks, garden benches, tables, etc. They have already outgrown their new location and hope to increase production and sales with this expansion. The committee recommended funding this project at $25,000.
Lowell Moon is remodeling the Dairy Queen in Concordia. Renovations include replacing all outside walls, adding new siding, upgrading the lighting, new signage, new entry vestibule, replacing the HVAC system, replacing the solarium with conventional walls, new windows and door and adding a digital reader board to the road sign. Moon is requesting funds only for the digital reader board. Data from other Dairy Queens show sales increases of up to 30% after remodels. The committee recommended funding the project at $12,500.
Michael Chartier is expanding his business MAC fabricating by adding a new building. Chartier recently completed a 26 year career with Arvos. MAC Fabricating creates custom iron and metal pieces for companies, as well as specialty attachments for fork lifts. The new facility will be a 60 X 120 foot steel frame building with a concrete floor and two overhead cranes. The bigger space will allow Mr. Chartier to fulfill current contract requests and accommodate future projects. The committee recommends funding this project at $20,000.
Tom Gennette, Chad Sallman and Ty Gennette have purchased a building in downtown Concordia and plan to open Easy G’s Sports Grill. The building was once Computers and More and the Sallman brothers are currently gutting the building to make way for a new kitchen, dining area and bar. They requested funds to aid in the construction of the new establishment and hope to be open late fall. The committee recommends funding this project at $40,000.
The total amount requested during this grant cycle was $278,303. The committee’s slate request is $132,500.00, leaving $17,500 for the July 1st grant period.
The Get in the Cloud grant was established in 2014 by CloudCorp after input from the business owners in Cloud County, public officials, and economic development professionals. “The County Commissioners wanted a way to help grow entrepreneurship and small businesses in Cloud County,” said Ashley Hutchinson, executive director of CloudCorp. “I spent some time talking with successful business owners in Cloud County and asked them each what was needed to help spur entrepreneurism. I kept hearing mentoring and access to capital. This program accomplishes both.” The Commission awarded 7 businesses with funding in 2014. The funds from the grant program are awarded by the Cloud County Commissioners from the wind farm gift provided by EDP Renewables.
The grant program is only for businesses with 50 employees or less. Applicants must reside in Cloud County Kansas or own a small business physically located in Cloud County, Kansas. Both start-up companies and existing businesses can apply for funds. Each applicant can apply for 50% of start-up costs, up to $50,000 for their venture. The grant funds can only be used for permanent upgrades to existing structures or building a new structure. “The CloudCorp board of directors wanted the money to stay in Cloud County,” said Hutchinson. “The reality is sometimes businesses fail. In most cases, you can’t take a building with you. The county will always have the property tax from the new construction, and the communities will benefit greatly from doing improvements to their aging buildings.”
In order to qualify for the grant, new businesses must show personal financial soundness, a business plan, proof they have completed the Small Business Development Courses, and obtain a business mentor. For existing businesses, they must show three years of business financials and details of their project. Ventures must prove that they are benefiting the community by bringing in more customers and providing new or expanded product lines. Once an application is deemed complete by CloudCorp staff, applicants will go before a 7 person committee to pitch their business plan. The seven person committee is comprised of current and retired business owners in Cloud County. The committee makes a slate of recommendations to the County Commissioners every two months until funds are gone.
With $17,500 left for the July grant cycle, CloudCorp encourages any interested entrepreneurs to start on the application right away. All Get in the Cloud monies are considered business income and in most cases will need to be reported as income. CloudCorp encourages all applicants to discuss the grant with their tax specialist before applying for funds.