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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Economic development grants for 2024 announced

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – The Linn County Commission approved three annual economic development grants for 2024 on Monday, Jan. 29. They also heard an update by Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower on the Linn County Housing Incentive funds available to homeowners.

Jessica Hightower told the commissioners that the economic development committee meetings were being changed to the first Tuesday of every month at 9 a.m. and then briefly went over each grant for the commissioners. According to Hightower, all four grants were approved last year.

The Childcare Provider Grant offers four 250 grants for licensed childcare, providers to reimburse for eligible expenses like registration, education hours, supplies that are not covered by other funding mechanisms, educational materials and things like that.

The grant is not intended for food or construction. After being approved for the grant, the applicant would purchase the items needed and then be reimbursed by the county.

The second grant she explained was the Community Development Grant which provides four $250 grants for organizations that put on community events. She said that this was only available to organizations, not government agencies or individuals. Some of the things it helped with last year were the Grady’s Kids event and the Bryce Howard Concert.

She explained this could be used for advertising a fundraising event but not for items sold or auctioned, like at silent auctions. This grant is available on a first come, first served basis. Last year, three were awarded from the county. The committee was changing this grant to a reimbursement grant this year.

The third grant approved by the commissioners was the Summer Youth Employment Grant which encourages county employers to hire local youth from the county for summer jobs. 

Jessica Hightower said that this was a very popular grant and the county offered 10 $1,200 grants. The county reimburses businesses the first $4 for every hour worked up to 30 hours per week for 10 weeks. Businesses are required to pay the employee at least $8 per hour . 

She said that there were 20 applicants last year and the committee used a scoring system to determine who would receive the grant. Some of the items considered in scoring include the amount of pay, whether the job might turn into a permanent position, and how skilled the job was.

The deadline for applying for the Summer Youth Grant is April 1, and after being chosen the business has until the first Tuesday in May to hire an employee. If a business has not found an employee, the grant is forfeited to an alternate applicant.  Last year 10 businesses were chosen with two businesses as alternates. 

Jessica Hightower also announced that funds would be available for Linn County Housing Incentives for 2024. The funds used for these programs were part of a $25,000 grant the county had received for its Rural Champions Grant. 

The three incentive programs are demolition assistance, long-term vacant, and Paint Linn County.

The Demo Assistance incentive is to help blighted properties be cleared and to spur redevelopment and investment in the local community. It awards up to $2,500 per eligible landowner who clears blighted property and plans to either develop, build a new home or sell to a builder or developer. They can’t just clear it for farm land.

This grant requires a one-to-one match, and both cash and in-kind matches are eligible.

The Long-term Vacant program encourages people to list and sell properties that have been vacant for at least 12 months and to help to increase available housing stock in Linn County. It awards up to $2,500 to help offset market costs to get the home market ready. It is also a one-to-one match, and both cash and in-kind matches are eligible. 

The Paint Linn County grant assists homeowners to upgrade the curb appeal of their home by funding $500 for supplies and paint. The materials and paint must be purchased in Linn County. The grant is cash matching on a one-to-one match. 

Applications for the above programs will be on Facebook or the Linn County website.

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