Cloud County Health Center Requests Funding Support through the Meridian Way Wind Farm Dollars Provided by EDP Renewables
Members of the Cloud County Health Center Board of Trustees and the Cloud County Foundation for Health Care attended the Cloud County Commission meeting on Monday, January 27th to request $200,000 in funding support through the Meridian Way Wind Farm dollars provided each year by EDP Renewables to support the build of a new, $40.35 million hospital along College Drive in Concordia.
The Cloud County Health Center also asked the county commission for a best faith commitment for $200,000 in years 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024 for a total contribution of $1 million over five years.
This year, Cloud County is expected to receive a gift of $300,000 from EDP Renewables. The funds are to be used to support innovative projects that enhance the quality of life, prosperity, and safety of the citizens of Cloud County by creating additional educational, recreational, social, health, community development, and economic opportunities for them and for existing and new businesses in Cloud County.
For the community to grow and attract new citizens, Cloud County Health Center believes they must be able to provide state-of-the-art health care. In their grant application to the county commission, Cloud County Health Center says they already provide outstanding quality care, but the new facility will allow them to continue that care into the future -- an issue important to young families looking for a place to live and for those hoping to retire here.
Cloud County Health Center is also the biggest private employer in Cloud County and they hope a new facility will enable them to retain and attract employees into the future.
Cloud County Health Center Board Chairman Phil Gilliland said while they are making the biggest request in the history of the wind farm gift, they also believe this is the most important project that has ever been before the county commission.
During a public presentation at the Broadway Plaza in downtown Concordia last summer, Cloud County Health Center officially announced its plans to construct a new 74,000 square-foot facility, including fourteen inpatient beds, emergency department, surgery space, rural health clinic, and all appurtenant services, as well as space to continue the variety of specialty clinic services already provided at the existing facility.
The hospital also made a commitment at that time to not seek local tax support for the construction of a new health care facility, continuing to be one of the few hospitals in the state of Kansas that does not receive tax support.
Cloud County Health Center announced plans in July 2019 to seek a loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) through a program that develops essential community facilities in rural areas to construct, purchase equipment and pay related project expenses for a new health care facility in Concordia. Final approval of the USDA loan is anticipated for February.
While they have applied for full funding from USDA, the Cloud County Health Center is trying to lower their debt burden through fundraising in order to pay off the hospital faster while lowering the amount of interest the have to pay over time.
In addition, supplemental funds raised through grants and private donors will allow Cloud County Health Center to bring in state-of-the-art equipment for patient care. Gilliland said it is important to USDA to show community support through other means when tax money is off the table.
In 2019, the City of Concordia and Cloud County Community College entered into development agreements with Cloud County Health Center for land in College Drive Park, valued at $760,000. The hospital said they also have commitments from private donors they will be announcing at a later time.
CloudCorp Executive Director Kim Reynolds also met with the Cloud County Commission on Monday to request $150,000 in Meridian Way Wind Farm funds to support the Get in the Cloud small business grant program. But Reynolds told the commissioners CloudCorp is passionately supporting Cloud County Health Center's efforts to build a new health care facility in Concordia and is willing to adjust their yearly request for funds as an additional sign of support for the hospital.
Reynolds says the CloudCorp Board of Directors realize a new health care facility will have an immense economic impact on Concordia, Cloud County and the entire region and they want to support Cloud County Health Center in its endeavor.
Now in its seventh year, Get in the Cloud is intended to encourage economic development in Cloud County, while increasing the property value of existing structures or land.
The Get in the Cloud grant fund provides competitive grants and mentoring support for new and existing businesses. Entrepreneurs who successfully complete the educational component and who own an existing business located in Cloud County or are developing a business concept they intend to locate in Cloud County will be eligible to apply for a one time grant of 50% of start-up costs or $50,000, whichever is less, to fund eligible expenses. Existing businesses are eligible if they can show increased sales and/or customer base from an addition to their current facility.
The decision to award the funds rests solely with the CloudCorp Get in the Cloud grant committee, with final approval of the awardee slate by the Cloud County Commissioners.
If awarded funds, CloudCorp will monitor the business to assure that the awarded funds are used as stated in the grant application. CloudCorp extends further support by providing participants with a network of experienced, successful business mentors they may rely on after the courses end and as they continue building their business.
Since the Get in the Cloud small business grant program was established, approximately $5 million in projects have been completed with just over $850,000 in grant dollars awarded. Out of that $5 million, Reynolds said they estimate only $230,000 has been spent with vendors outside of Cloud County.
Reynolds said they truly believe these projects would not have been possible without the availability of the Get in the Cloud grant.