ACDC hosted its Rock Port/Watson business lunch March 22, at the Rock Port Country Club. The meal was catered by Food Country. W.C. Farmer, ACDC president, welcomed guests and introduced elected officials present: Sheriff Dennis Martin, North District Commissioner Jim Quimby, South District County Commissioner Richard Burke, and Rock Port Alderman Chris Chamberlain. Farmer also introduced ACDC Board members present including Scott Melvin, Bob Alldredge, and Craig Corken, and ACDC staff (Administrative Assistant Carol Clark and Director Monica Bailey) before leading everyone in prayer.
Chamberlain discussed the status of city street projects and plans. The primary street budget problem seems to be connected to some contracted concrete work back in 2000. The city had to borrow money to pay its obligation, so this debt continues to demand a great deal of the street budget. The Board of Aldermen has made much progress toward improvement and cost efficiency. The city crew, with the assistance of Gary Davis, is now doing the street repairs. Many in attendance commended the work being done by the city crew. In 2000, the cost of street repair averaged $116.83 per square foot and in 2015-2016 the average cost was $4.15 per square foot (including city labor). However, the $32,443 budget for street repair falls short of the need for meeting the desired quality of city streets. The Board of Aldermen is, therefore, proposing to establish a one-half of one percent transportation sales tax. Proceeds from the sales tax will be used to improve the quality of streets throughout the community. Chamberlain noted that 55% of all sales tax revenue was collected from I-29 businesses in 2016, and that revenues generated from the transportation sales tax will be used solely for roadway improvements in the city rather than reoccurring operational expenses. In response to a question regarding the current tax for city streets that was passed some years back, Mr. Chamberlain responded that that tax is still in place and being used for streets. The majority of the tax is being used to pay the street lease payment, which is $81,000 of the anticipated $113,443 tax revenue for 2017. He invited people to come to a meeting of the Board of Aldermen to get more information regarding use of that tax, as well as more information as to why another tax is needed.
Keli Morris, Facilitator for Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation (NWMEF), spoke about her efforts in assisting people in Andrew, Atchison, Gentry, Holt, Nodaway, and Worth counties who are considering creating or expanding businesses. She discussed the ‘Trinity of Management” utilized by NWMEF: product, marketing, and finance. Morris said that through the expertise and knowledge of NWMEF board members and one-on-one interactions they can connect potential entrepreneurs to the support and resources needed to help them succeed. One of the tangible ways NWMEF helps businesses get off the ground is through organizing grand openings in conjunction with local Chambers of Commerce, one of which is scheduled in Rock Port on Friday, April 7, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for Rock Port Cabins.
Dale Dickkut introduced Freija Gross, new owner of Rock Port Cabins, and her assistant Caitlin Kinman. Dickkut encouraged everyone to check out the refurbished cabins.
ACDC Director Monica Bailey provided information on ACDC activities. Bailey mentioned that ACDC is funded by a 1/4-cent sales tax that is up for vote every five years and charges the office with carrying out economic and community development in Atchison County, which includes but is not limited to: creating jobs through new businesses, bettering quality of life so that people want to work, live and start businesses in the county, filling empty buildings through recruitment efforts, and helping small businesses. Bailey explained that “everything ACDC does is based on three assumptions: that nobody cares about Atchison County as much as we do, that no one has more talent 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.”
Bailey discussed ACDC’s youth programs as a way to connect young people to their county. The Youth Professionalism Workshop is held each year on the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Atchison County juniors meet at the Tarkio Resource Center and 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 throughout the county, where they hear from at least one employer representing each of the six career clusters. ACDC’s job shadowing program was started last year as a day for seniors, but will now also include a second day for juniors, so that they have two opportunities in high school to explore the hundreds of businesses in the county. These days will be held on March 29 and April 19. Bailey emphasized that the purpose of ACDC youth programs is to connect students with local adults who believe that careers are available locally and that it is possible to make a life in Atchison County.
Bailey highlighted the Business Improvement Grant as ACDC’s chief effort to help existing businesses grow and succeed. Applications are being accepted now, and $10,000 has been allotted to 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 (such as Keli Morris with Northwest Missouri Enterprise Facilitation), organizations that offer low interest business loans or information on what to do first. Bailey also mentioned ACDC’s support of nonprofits such as area nutrition centers in their efforts to serve the community.
Bailey encouraged attendees to utilize ACDC resources, such as their Facebook page which updates followers on major projects, and their website (www.atchisoncounty.org) which endeavors to be the primary resource for all things Atchison County. Finally, Bailey expressed her hope that when people think of ACDC, they think of their efforts to “Change the Conversation” to one that focuses on the good in Atchison County.