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Just a little clarification... The yearly cost of the Heritage Conservation Fund is $350,000, so a total of $700,000 in funding as been allocated over the two years the program has been operational. Next year's budget is for $325,000 and the request for proposals will be accepted in the spring.
A total of 17 conservation, restoration, historic registry, museum and Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area projects have been funded so far as well as a county wide historic survey that has been completed in Eudora Township and will slowly but surely move through all nine townships. So, you can see the Kansas Belle Dinner Train is just one example of a large number of funded projects throughout the county. Here are the details of that one project: The Kansas Belle Dinner Train received a $54,000 grant from the Heritage Conservation Fund (they asked for $80,000). The project also received a $25,000 gap funding loan from the county's new E-Community fund, and a $15,000 loan from the county's Economic Development Fund for unexpected sewer line costs. The latter two loans will be paid back to the county with interest. So, only $54,000 was spent; the rest was loaned out of the E-Community program which stems from the state's "Network Kansas" program. The total package after all the partners (including the City of Baldwin and Baldwin's Economic Development Council) chipped in was over $300,000--including money from the train's owner. So this is an example of private/public investment where public dollars are leveraged to achieve an end that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. And that end is not only job creation, but building on those best characteristics of our large and small communities--the ones that add to our own quality of life, and also attract visitors to our great county. Adding to our inventory of accessible Freedom's Frontier Heritage Area Sites is a wise investment for Douglas County, given that we're the lead county in that 41 county federally designated tourism program...but maybe we can leave that conversation for tomorrow. I welcome any questions! County Commissioner Nancy Thellman
October 17, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.
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In the short time the Heritage Conservation Fund, Economic Development Fund and E-Community programs have been up and running (two years for the first two, one year for the third) fully 20 jobs have been added to our small communties--directly related to these programs. 3 new jobs in Eudora and 17 new jobs for Baldwin City with the arrival of the Kansas Belle Dinner Train later this year. This new and substantial business would not have come to Douglas County without funding from the Heritage Conservation Fund and E-Community--both programs I initiated. Along with the 17 new jobs in Baldwin City will be the arrivall of a projected 8-9,000 NEW visitors to Baldwin City, patrons of the dinner train. The partnership that was created to put this package together was between the Douglas County Commission, the City Council of Baldwin City, local banks, the Baldwin Economic Development Council, Midland Rail, and, of course, the owner of the Nebraska-based dinner train. Again, without Douglas County's partnership, this new business with its NEW JOBS, would not be on its way to Douglas County this fall. This is one example of several that can be made to point to the success of partnering with local business leaders and governing entitities to bring successful economic development to our county. After all, we know that most jobs are created in the small business sector. There is more to economic development than large manufacturing--though that is desirable, too, and we're all working equally hard on that. Small business expansion, entrepreneurial pursuits, heritage tourism, recreational tourism, local food system development, the arts--all of these are economic development directions the county can now pursue thanks to these innovative programs. All the aforementioned sectors are types of economic engines, by the way, that have been featured in a recent issues of the Lawrence Business Magazine.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's on-line chat--at 11:00!County Commissioner Nancy Thellman
October 17, 2012 at 2:26 p.m.
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