Jul 15, 2021

Great Bend looking into building new daycare facility

Posted Jul 15, 2021 2:03 PM

Great Bend Post

GREAT BEND — Great Bend Economic Development Inc. is starting to see its impact and financial status strengthen as more focus is spent bolstering the department. Over a year and a half into the new adventure, the majority of the city council seemed in favor at Monday's budget session of funding Economic Development an additional $100,000 in the 2022 budget.

Councilmember and Eco Devo Board of Directors member Jolene Biggs said $70,000 of the extra request is for childcare startup expenses. Great Bend received a plan from Garden City on creating a self-sufficient daycare facility.

"They have been able to come up with the numbers to make these childcare facilities self-sufficient," said Biggs. "We do have a shortage of childcare facilities. $70,000 of that was to be used on a one-year basis to bring on a director to get that set up."

The Economic Development Inc. applied for a grant through the Department of Commerce for a childcare facility.

Biggs acknowledged that one of Great Bend’s first priorities is economic development and that childcare, workforce and housing are three key parts of building a good economic development group.

Given $150,000 in 2021, Economic Development requested $250,000 for 2022. Biggs said the remaining extra requested funds would go to hiring another worker for the department.

"We've been working on a shoestring with just Sara Hayden as our director," said Biggs.  "The additional funds is to help with an additional employee. Those of us serving on the Economic board have volunteered many hours and we need extra manpower."

Great Bend Economic Development also received support from the city council to receive $1 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. The city is expected to receive $2.27 million in federal money to help recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Eco Devo plans on using the $1 million as an incentive program for downtown business owners to renovate their multi-story buildings into livable loft space. The program will partially reimburse owners for the cost of renovations, including fire alarms and fire sprinklers.