Atchison County Development Corporation (ACDC) held its Rock Port Business Lunch Wednesday, March 7, 2018. ACDC Director Monica Bailey is pictured above giving an update on ACDC.
Dusty Trail and Trail’s End owner Karen Brown was a guest speaker at the ACDC Rock Port Business Lunch Wednesday, March 7, 2018. Karen plans to expand the marketing efforts for Dusty Trail in hopes that it will ultimately become a destination location for the larger region. Brown also spoke about future uses for both the former Trail’s End restaurant space and the fireworks building.
Todd Stevens, City of Rock Port Alderman, updated the group on city projects at the ACDC Rock Port Business Lunch Wednesday, March 7, 2018.
Atchison County Development Corporation (ACDC) held its 2018 business lunch for the Rock Port area on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, at the Rock Port Country Club, where Food Country catered a delicious lunch for 39 people. W.C. Farmer, ACDC Board Member, opened the meeting and introduced guest speakers. Bob Alldredge, ACDC Treasurer, offered a prayer for the opportunity to eat and serve together.
Todd Stevens, City of Rock Port Alderman, updated the group on city projects. All three phases of the Main Street lighting project, funded by MoDOT grants, have been completed. No more funds are currently budgeted. Main Street has been completed except the 200th block. City office sidewalks are planned for replacement. Prioritization for street repairs is based on a combined score of street condition, traffic flow, and cost/funding availability and a chart for 2018 rankings was provided. Stevens provided city street maps that showed what has been improved or repaired since 2015.
A big issue with the water system is leak elimination. Stevens reported that Rock Port has achieved a 50% decrease in leakage since 2013, with 15 significant leaks identified and repaired in 2017. The city has been proactive in replacing old galvanized water lines and old hydrants. Leak detection equipment has been purchased and personnel trained. The water tower is inspected every 5 years, and will be inspected this spring.
The electrical system is being upgraded, in conjunction with related infrastructure improvements. There will be a voltage upgrade from 2400V to 4160V and the supply to Rock Port will increase to 12.5kV. A new switch station will be installed on the south end of town to aid in redundancy. This project will be completed in June 2018. These improvements are necessary to improve redundancy for the community, eliminate equipment that is beyond its useful life, improve efficiencies, and allow for future transition of downtown infrastructure to 12.5kV. Stevens discussed the recent electrical rate increase, which was necessary for capital upgrades and infrastructure protection. A rate study by Olsson & Associates is available at the city offices for review at any time. There are necessary increases in budgeted items for future planning purposes such as increases in wages based on qualifications, ongoing maintenance and repair which has been neglected in the past, tree trimming, and funding a reserve for future capital needs. This was the first electrical rate increase since 2009.
Finally, Stevens mentioned equipment upgrades being planned, including online bill paying for RP Utilities and salt brine truck upgrades for improved performance and lower overall costs. A police cruiser, side by side UTV and concrete saw are currently budgeted for purchase in 2018.
The second speaker was Karen Brown, owner of Dusty Trail and Trail’s End. Brown spoke about how her particular “corporate DNA” got her to this point and enabled her to create Dusty Trail. She said that at Dusty Trail it’s not only about food, but experimenting and trying new things that they hope people will enjoy. The new restaurant is starting to attract people from an increasingly large radius. They plan to expand their marketing efforts and ultimately become a destination location for the larger region. Brown spoke about future uses for both the former Trail’s End restaurant space and the fireworks building.
ACDC Director Monica Bailey highlighted ACDC activities. ACDC is funded by a 1/4-cent sales tax that is up for vote every 5 years and charges the office with carrying out economic development in Atchison County. ACDC’s mission statement is “to initiate, stimulate, and facilitate opportunity in Atchison County through economic and community development.” Bailey said that ACDC’s mission, put into action, translates to connecting youth with their county, especially the business community, so that they know about career opportunities here; supporting existing businesses and helping new businesses get started; supporting the efforts of our local nonprofits, when those projects have a significant impact on our communities; sharing local information; and promoting our county to potential industries and residents. “Everything we do is based on three assumptions: that nobody cares about this place as much as we do, that no one is more capable than the people in our towns and the kids in our schools, and that the best way to grow and add jobs and add wealth is to build on what we have,” said Bailey.
Bailey discussed the importance of ACDC’s youth programs, targeted to Atchison County’s future workforce. ACDC’s 4th Annual Youth Professionalism Workshop was in November, offering Atchison County juniors a crash course on professionalism. Throughout the day, students receive tips from business owners and other county leaders, such as how to apply for jobs and how to use social media wisely. In the afternoon, students are taken to businesses around the county, where they hear from an employer representing each of the 6 career clusters. Planning for ACDC’s spring job shadowing program is underway. Atchison County juniors will sign up to shadow a business in the county on March 28. Seniors will initiate their job shadow experience in April this year, utilizing this opportunity to put some of those professional skills into practice.
In addition to these workforce programs, ACDC also recognizes the importance of cultivating leadership and volunteerism in our future residents. Bailey discussed ACDC’s new youth grant program, called Make AC Beautiful. A grant of at least $500 will be awarded to a beautification project in each of the three school district areas (but not on school grounds). Applications will be due September 1, winners will be announced October 1, and projects will be completed by July 31 of next year. These will be youth-led projects, with a group of at least 3 students with an adult “sponsor” to assist and guide. Grant information will be available around April 1.
Bailey also highlighted the Business Improvement Grant as ACDC’s tangible tool to help existing businesses grow and succeed. Applications are being accepted now for this year’s grant. Four projects have already been awarded, leaving $6,000 left in this 50/50 reimbursed matching grant program. She also encouraged the audience to direct business start-ups to ACDC, who can assist by connecting them with people who can help them on their journey (Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation), organizations that offer low interest business loans or information on what to do first.
Finally, Bailey encouraged attendees to utilize ACDC’s Facebook page and website (www.atchisoncounty.org) and asked the group to send individuals to ACDC when they are considering starting or growing a business.