FRONTENAC — Prior to its regular meeting Monday, the Frontenac City Council met with members of the Crawford County Economic Development Committee to discuss possible initiatives that could help the city, as well as work toward new development.
The council heard from Crawford County Commissioner Jeff Murphy, Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce President Blake Benson, Girard Area Chamber of Commerce Director Julie Smith and Live Well Crawford County Director Brad Stroud about initiatives they are involved in and ways Frontenac can utilize local resources.
“About a year ago we had the idea to create this committee and we’ve met in different cities, but had not been to Frontenac yet,” Murphy said. “Something we think we can do better as a county is communication.
“We have a lot of great resources and people in the county that cities can utilize to accomplish goals, and I think there is a lot of opportunity to work together through people like Blake Benson, Brad Stroud, Julie Smith and others.”
Stroud spoke to the council about current grant work through Live Well to increase active transportation in Crawford County. He discussed the Crawford County Active Transportation Advisory Board and city ATABs that have been established.
“The county ATAB has a comprehensive plan for the whole county, which includes Frontenac,” Stroud said. “But you could create your own board and identify other opportunities for your city that we may have missed.”
A large portion of the comprehensive plan is connecting the county through bicycle trails, and plans have been made looking at the possibility of widening shoulders and establishing trails around Frontenac, such as widening the shoulder on 230th Street — Cayuga Street in Frontenac — to connect Frontenac and Arma for cyclists.
Murphy said this offers opportunity to Frontenac.
“If we work together to complete some of these things, Frontenac could become a hub for bicycling in the county,” Murphy said. “That is great for health, which is Brad’s focus, but also for economic development.
“If people come to the city to bike for the day, they spend money here.”
Frontenac City Administrator Brad Reams talked about discussions the city has had regarding development, such as expanding the industrial park and possible incentives to businesses. The council has looked at tax abatement, as well as municipal abatement — offering businesses “X” number of years of free water or sewer.
“It’s good to have discussions about what you can offer businesses before they’re here,” Benson said. “If policy is already in place, it’s easy to show businesses what Frontenac can offer them.”
Smith spoke about the successes of entrepreneurship programs in Girard. The city and chamber have worked together to apply for tax credits that can be offered to businesses to spur development.
“Our local cafe closed down on the square for a while and through our tax credit work we were able to help someone take over,” Smith said. “That is just one example of how we’ve been able to help entrepreneurs that want to start businesses in Girard.”
The council plans to discuss appointing a member or city staff to the countywide economic development committee.
In regular business:
Reams announced Westar Energy will be upgrading lighting between Cayuga Street and Rotary Park at no cost to the city,
The council was assigned official city emails,
Reams said the new city website is getting close to going live, and;
The council approved the purchase of a RAVO street sweeper.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.