Two financial improvement grants will enable group leaders in Comanche to proceed efforts to make the small Stephens County group extra engaging to guests and new residents by increasing its enterprise base.
Comanche was amongst eight rural Oklahoma entities awarded grants for 10 initiatives, courtesy of the U.S. Division of Agriculture by means of its Rural Enterprise Growth Grant Program. Of these eight, two had been awarded to Comanche, one to the Duncan Space Financial Growth Basis, and two to the Southwest Middleman Finance Group Inc. for enterprise improvement initiatives in western Oklahoma, to incorporate Hollis and Caddo County.
Comanche will obtain a complete of $146,000 by means of two grants: $46,000 to purchase and convert an deserted fuel station right into a small enterprise incubator, and $100,000 to purchase and renovate an deserted motel right into a public market that can maintain as much as 40 distributors.
Metropolis Supervisor Chuck Ralls mentioned the city already is engaged on the previous Comanche Motel, property that has been vacant for years.
“It’s actually dilapidated, an enormous eyesore,” Ralls mentioned, explaining the city’s purpose is to wash up the property, then restore it to sensible use.
Ralls mentioned whereas the preliminary purpose was cleansing up the property to enhance its appears to be like, the USDA Rural Growth Grant will enable metropolis leaders to “flip the property and use it for income era for the town and group.”
The undertaking — already underway — will convert rooms within the single story construction to mini-storefronts. Ralls mentioned the previous motel has rooms which can be 15-feet by 15-feet or 15-feet by 30-feet, providing choices for somebody who would possibly need sales space area on a brief foundation, or a storefront they’ll hire on a month-to-month foundation. The area means a possible vendor or enterprise proprietor can arrange for an extended interval, reasonably than constantly organising and tearing down, for actions which may be every day, as soon as a month, or regardless of the proprietor wants.
Ralls mentioned the constructing additionally could have an space devoted to native farmers to promote produce, with no payment related.
“It should assist enhance the diet for our group in addition to present supplemental revenue for these small farmers,” Ralls mentioned, including business farmers can also get hold of area, however will want a allow.
As soon as a month, the group will maintain a big market, the place cubicles will likely be rented and actions corresponding to meals vehicles will likely be supplied.
“We’re actually on the lookout for methods to attract individuals to our group,” Ralls mentioned, explaining these guests will spend cash elsewhere in Comanche, serving to established companies.
The city already has leveraged one other partnership to start its work. Hold Oklahoma Stunning, by means of its Recent Paint Days program, donated 130 gallons of paint, which already has been used to brighten the previous motel.
Plans aren’t as far alongside on the $46,000 undertaking to purchase and convert an deserted fuel station right into a small enterprise incubator. However, Ralls mentioned Comanche already has historical past from which to attract, explaining the city bought one other fuel station and transformed it to incubator area a number of years in the past. That small flower store and graphic arts retailer has been very profitable, he mentioned, including the enterprise in all probability goes to need to increase into greater area.
Neighborhood leaders have the identical plan for the fuel station website, and Ralls mentioned the city already has three potential companions all in favour of leasing the area.
“We’ll renovate the constructing to their specs,” he mentioned of the final word winner, including group leaders will set a low month-to-month hire to assist the enterprise get established.
However, this constructing has standards that can have an effect on its look. The fuel station with a particular entrance has been designated an historic construction, which is able to restrict any adjustments to its entrance exterior. Ralls mentioned the undertaking nonetheless suits into what Comanche needs to do, when it comes to bringing new companies to city. Comanche residents nonetheless would have labored towards that purpose, however Ralls admits the federal funding will make the method simpler.
“It helps out and will get us a faster return on the funding,” he mentioned.
Doug Misak, president of Southwest Middleman Finance Group, mentioned that is also the idea that’s guiding spending of a $99,000 grant to purchase optometry tools to be leased to the Shortgrass Neighborhood Well being Heart in Hollis, and a $123,028 grant that can turn into a revolving mortgage fund to assist small companies. Each match into the outlined targets that the Southwest Middleman Finance Group set when the collaborative effort was established and housed on the campus of Southwestern Oklahoma State College in Weatherford.
Misak mentioned the entity was tasked with serving to to start out and develop rural companies, serving to with issues corresponding to securing financing and growing enterprise plans, projecting a “what would you prefer to be” angle for potential shoppers. The crew works with companies in 20 counties, together with Harmon County and its main city, Hollis. Misak mentioned he’s particularly happy with the mortgage to Harmon County as a result of it’s the primary one.
Queries to medical suppliers led to Shortgrass Neighborhood Well being Heart. The undertaking: Southwest Middleman Finance Group will purchase the optometry tools and software program, then lease it to well being heart for $1 a 12 months. The tools finally will likely be transferred to the well being heart possession. It’s much like a undertaking the Southwest Middleman Finance Group did for a Caddo doctor and dentist, and each had been profitable ventures, Misak mentioned.
“It’s our third outing,” he mentioned.
The revolving mortgage fund is also “previous hat,” which means the crew already has expertise utilizing that idea to profit small companies (the entity has 35 loans totaling greater than $three million in its counties). Right here, the revolving mortgage fund will apply to companies in three counties, together with Caddo, providing low-interest loans.
“We are going to administer that,” Misak mentioned, explaining the entity will assist enterprise house owners write plans and consider their potential, with an final award relying on want. “It’s a great way to get out funds and stimulate the economic system. And, it’s one thing the USDA already has accomplished.”
Loans which can be repaid return into the revolving mortgage fund to assist different companies. Misak, noting the typical mortgage is $100,000, mentioned the USDA grant program is necessary.
“It’s indispensable,” he mentioned.