Relief for Wayne County Small Business Owners

RICHMOND, Ind. –Amanda Marquis said the $ 10,000 she received from a Wayne County Small Business Assistance Program lifted a huge burden.

Corner Cafe at The Leland was one of 38 businesses that received $ 324,377 from OCRA’s Wayne County Small Business Grants program. A wrap-up public hearing required by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs was held on Wednesday ahead of the weekly county commissioners meeting.

The local program included an OCRA grant of $ 250,000 and local money left over from previous aid programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Marquis said the list of businesses receiving support included “really loyal and strong community leaders,” and she said this was important and would continue to be.

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Marquis believes the pandemic may only be at half-time, so businesses will continue to face challenges related to COVID.

“I just wanted to thank you,” she said. “It made a difference whether I kept my doors open or not and gave me a bit of a break.”

Tim Nelson, owner of Just Smokin ‘, said the $ 7,000 his business received helped him put new gravel in his driveway, new tires on his vehicles and ads on the sides of his trailer.

“It gave us a bit of a break because when COVID hit it just shut us down,” he said. “It was like turning off the water, and you turned it back on.”

Pam Broering’s Cruise Adventure & Travel was thriving in a new space on East Main Street when the pandemic struck. She said she couldn’t just shut down her business because the travel agency still had to help customers with complications from the pandemic.

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“We’re always here to help, so we need staff in our office all the time to help people with these needs,” said Broering, who received $ 10,000. “The funding helped us do that.”

Sam Patel, owner of the Best Western in Richmond, also received $ 10,000 which he said helped him pay his bills. He said the money was a big help.

“Our industry is just starting to come back this year, but 14 months of negative activity has put us so behind that we’re still coming out of it,” Patel said.

Mary Walker, executive director of the Wayne County Convention & Tourism Bureau, said the money was very important to small businesses in the county.

“We are very happy that this has become available and we have been able to help small businesses because they are the future,” she said.

More deaths from COVID

Christine Stinson, executive director of the Wayne County Department of Health, attended Wednesday’s commissioners meeting as commissioners signed the county’s new support order, which was passed at the previous meeting.

During her stay, she provided an update on COVID-19 cases and deaths. Stinson said his department received reports on Wednesday morning of 82 new cases, including 21 in school-aged children, and three more deaths.

She said the deaths of residents aged 77, 62 and 44 brought the county’s total to 223 COVID-related deaths. That number, she said, is high compared to the total number of deaths in some more populous counties. There were September 13 deaths plus one March 6 death of a resident in his 20s reported this month following the conclusion of a full coroner’s inquest.

“We are not taking the precautions that we have to take,” she said.

Stinson said mitigation efforts need to be tracked and the vaccination rate needs to drop from the current 46% of eligible residents to 80% or 90%. She said the department hopes to get more information on the vaccination booster by September 20. The department is ready to speed up mass vaccinations and has plenty of vaccines if boosters are recommended.

Economic development update

Valerie Shaffer, president of the Wayne County Economic Development Corporation, briefed the commissioners after the EDC board meeting on Monday.

EDC has worked with four local businesses planning expansion projects and working with businesses interested in locating in Wayne County. Shaffer said the leads either came from the state or were the companies’ direct contact with EDC.

Eighteen Wayne County projects were among those submitted for consideration by the East Central Indiana Regional Partnership for a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative application. Shaffer said eight of the 18 advanced through the initial scoring process to be included in the nomination.

The READI program allows regions in Indiana to apply for up to $ 50 million to fund regional projects. Fayette County was originally the only county in Indiana not to be involved in a regional application, but has since joined the request for the Central East region with the counties of Wayne, Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Henry, Jay and Randolph.

The projects are moving forward

Wayne County Council has decided to move forward this year with projects initially budgeted for 2022 due to the county’s strong financial situation. One of those projects is new workstations and new mats for the Emergency Communications Center.

Director Matthew Cain has requested $ 131,500 for the project which includes the use of a consultant. The commissioners authorized Cain to go ahead with a consultancy employment contract by Ritter Strategic Services of Hagerstown.

Barry Ritter is a former director of the Wayne County 911 Center and the former executive director of the statewide 911 board of directors. Cain said he recently consulted with Hancock County on a 911 refurbishment and comes highly recommended.

The commissioners also opened three offers on Wednesday for cyclical real estate revaluation services. Bids ranged from $ 692,000 by Lexur Entrerprises, Inc., of Dayton, Ohio, to $ 898,000 by Nexus Group of Zionsville.

These offers were taken under advisement.

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