EDC hoping to get another round of COVID relief funds

After going to bat for the city of New Castle, the local economic development office wants to take a swing at helping businesses in the county.

Last week, members of the New Castle-Henry County Economic Development Board of Directors authorized the local office to serve as a “sub-recipient” in another $250,000 grant program administered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).

EDC President Corey Murphy and his staff played a similar role in a $250,000 grant awarded to the city.

“If we’re funded, we will market these grants to businesses all across the county with a particular interest outside of New Castle,” Murphy said. “However, if an eligible business within the city of New Castle applies, we certainly won’t turn them down. But there will be a marketing focus for businesses outside the city of New Castle with this program.

“I want to compliment the Henry County Council in terms of their local match commitment,” Murphy added. “No match was required. However, OCRA said ‘we’ll give you more points if you match.’ So the county council approved the maximum match, which was 10 percent of $25,000. I appreciate their leadership and investment in that program.”

The EDC office along with New Castle Main Street has been the hub of grant fund distribution for businesses hit hard by COVID-19. Murphy reported that the EDC office has administered $458,400 in grants and $58,000 in loans so far.

Also during the recent meeting, Murphy told board members the local EDC office might qualify for a Small Business Administration-backed loan as well.

He requested and received board approval to make an application.

“Recent legislation regarding federal government pandemic response allows 501-C6 not-for-profits to be eligible,” Murphy said. “We’re still exploring program guideline and requirements but I didn’t want to wait until March to make that application.”

Murphy was given permission to confer with board officers and legal counsel to make the best decision.

“But I thought it prudent because of the eligibility change in the program that we take a look at it.”

Other business

In other matters at the Feb. 11 meeting, the executive committee officially recommended a $2,500 increase to Murphy’s base pay. The recommendation was unanimously approved. In December, an EDC executive committee thought the increase was prudent since Murphy’s office will be assuming the county convention and visitor bureau duties.

EDC treasurer Darrin Jacobs praised Murphy, the executive committee and staff for work on the budget.

“I just want to commend Corey and Kelli (Wasson) for their work on this,” Darrin Jacobs said. “I think the EDC and Corey do a fantastic job of trying to be as transparent as possible, making sure everyone understands where the money’s coming from and where the money’s going. You don’t see many organizations send out their financials like we do.”

– Story by Darrel Radford (DRadford@TheCourierTimes.comof The Courier-Times. Read more local stories at www.TheCourierTimes.com.

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