The Meade County Area Chamber of Commerce (MCACC), Meade County Tourism (Tourism), and the Meade County Brandenburg Industrial Development Authority (MCBIDA) have begun work to procure funding for a Business and Innovation Center in Brandenburg, KY. The potential Business and Innovation Center will consist of offices for MCACC and MCBIDA, a Meade County Welcome Center, a conference room, computer lab, classroom, banquet hosting space, and incubator space. The incubator space will provide short-term leases for a new business to get established in the community for $1 per month. As of publication, they have applied for $997,000 in grant funding from USDA Rural Development, $124,000 from the Meade County Fiscal Court in ARPA funding, and would also self-fund $100,000. If funded, this project would cost $0 to members and $0 in Meade County Tax Revenue. This grant was also written and budgeted in-house at a cost of $0.
Securing a Business and Innovation Center is critical for the success of creating long-term high wage jobs in our area. The ultimate goal for developing a Business and Innovation Center would be to raise the income of everyone in Meade County across the board by attracting high-wage industrial employers to the area. This would also increase civic development, decrease the poverty rate, increase tax funding to the local school system, and create a need for smaller support businesses.
MCACC, Tourism, and MCBIDA currently share a smaller building with two offices, a lobby, and a small conference room. There is no facilitator space and all programing must be conducted offsite. Both parties will contribute differently to the establishment of a rural jobs accelerator program. MCBIDA will work directly to attract industry clusters to Meade County while MCACC will work to expand the capacity of the local workforce and prepare workers for high-wage jobs.
Upon the completion of a Business and Innovation Center, the Chamber would take their existing programs and build upon them for rural job acceleration. This would include a program called Meade County Works. Meade County Works would replicate Goodwill Works. Based upon Meade County Works’ potential metrics would create a pipeline of employees for high-wage jobs, provide space for employers to interview and test potential employees, and attract regionally needed subsidiary employers directly to Meade County. MCACC would also work directly with new and expanding industries to develop employees specific to their needs. Meade County Works could be started immediately upon completion of building construction, earlier if the outside locations are available.
These programs would also pull high-skilled individuals that work outside of the county back into the local economy. Currently, 80% of our working population commutes to outside locations for employment. Meade County Works would operate in conjunction with MCBIDA’s industrial clustering and will increase wage the income of everyone in Meade County across the board by attracting high-wage industrial employers to the area. This will create employment competition but also increase disposable income to fund small businesses’ wage increases. In return, Meade County will also see increased tax funding for civic development, increased tax funding to the local school system, and a large-scale increase in the middle class across all districts of the county. This funding would create an infrastructure to establish a future where the next generation can live and work comfortably in Meade County.
NEED FOR FUNDING
MCBIDA, MCACC, and Tourism are not revenue-generating organizations. MCBIDA does not generate a profit and does not have any direct employees. MCACC is a not-for-profit organization and has to spend all of its revenues every year. Meade County Tourism does not have any direct funds, it is funded via approved reimbursements. Its $30,000 annual budget has to be spent or lost each year. None of the organizations receive special taxing district funds and could never fund this project without grant or ARPA funding assistance.
WHAT WE PROVIDE
MCBIDA has brought into Meade County capital investments of over $2 billion. Over 1,200 construction jobs, over 780 new jobs, an estimated $56,289,835 in recurring payroll, and an average hourly wage of $34.70 for new employees. Meade County’s current hourly wage is $13.74. Tourism in Meade County generates over $30 million in annual local spending and contributes directly to over 200 jobs. MCACC helps facilitate retail growth in the community and small business growth. MCACC provides the largest scholarship fund in the county by giving $8,000 annually and assisted in raising over $125,000 in funds for nonprofits in 2021 alone. In 2023, the MCACC will also start working as a microgrant provider to aid struggling businesses in our community from going under.
The funding for this project will also be a one-time expense and no further requests will be made to support the Business and Development Center’s operations. This funding will also require financial reporting to show that every cent is being spent on the items listed in the grants and nothing else.
WE HAVE NOT SECURED THE FUNDS
At this point, the funds are only secured upon receiving the USDA Rural Development Grant since it comprises 80% of the funding. If this grant is not secured, the $124,000 from the Fiscal Court will not be awarded for the project. This is an annual grant that awards up to $2 million per applicant for an innovation center to create high-wage jobs for a community with a high poverty rate, Meade County has been verified as a need area and is eligible for funding. The Grant opportunity window closes in May 2022.
If you have any questions in regards to this funding reach out exclusively to Executive Director, Annie Hamilton at 270-422-3626 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. No other individuals will be answering questions.