Get in the Cloud grants awarded

 The Cloud County board of commissioners approved awarding $129,500 Monday for the Get in the Cloud Small Business Grant program.
 Earlier this year, the commissioners established the Get in the Cloud grant program, which is for businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Applicants were required to reside in Cloud County, or own a small business physically located in the county. Both start-up companies and existing businesses were able to apply for the funds. Each applicant could apply for 50-percent of start-up costs, up to $50,000 for their venture. The grant funds can only be used for permanent upgrades to existing structures, or toward building a new structure.
 The first round of applications were due on July 1, and a seven-person committee met July 21 to consider the applications. Five area businesses were awarded funding:
• Glasco Locker Plant owner Kelly Cool, Glasco, was awarded $30,000 to expand his business to add an additional freezer unit in a lot adjacent to his current building.
• Britt's Fountain and Gifts owners Tammy and Bill Britt, Concordia, were awarded $19,500 for building repairs and additions to their newly opened downtown business.
• Ayres Insurance Agency owner Tammy Marrs, Miltonvale, was awarded $30,000 for the restoration of a downtown building for the insurance agency to house two local nonprofit organizations.
• Valley Rental Center owners James and Becky Kindel, Concordia, were awarded $30,000 for their continued renovations of the former Lincoln School building into an event space.
• Urban Couture Salon owner Nicole Gieber, in partnership with building owners James and Mechelle Reynolds, Concordia, received $20,000 for the construction of a new building at the former Westside Inn site in downtown Concordia. Gieber will operate a beauty salon and spa at that location.
 In order to qualify for the grants, new businesses were required to show personal financial soundness, a business plan, proof they had completed the Small Business Development Center courses, and obtain a business mentor. For existing businesses, they were required to prove that they would be benefitting the community by bringing in more customers and providing new or expanded product lines.
 Once the applications were deemed complete by CloudCorp staff, applicants went before the seven-person committee to pitch their business plans. The committee then made a slate of recommendations to the County Commissioners, which is scheduled to happen every two months.
 After Monday's awards, the Get in the Cloud grant fund now has $20,500 remaining for the next round of applications, which are due Sept. 1. Interested business owners can pick up applications at the CloudCorp office, or find them online at www.cloudcorp.net.

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