Grant program for Boone County accepting applications

Saturday, July 5, 2008 | 5:48 p.m. CDT; updated 7:10 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Boone County residents can expect at least 20 more jobs in the coming year, thanks in part to a temporary grant program the Boone County Industrial Development Authority created last year.

In 2007, the development authority gave $50,000 to Columbia’s Regional Economic Development Inc. for its general operations and expenses, REDI President Bernie Andrews said. That allowed REDI to take the same amount from its reserve funds and put it into a flexible incentives program. Andrews said $25,000 from that incentives program was then used to lure an out-of-state company to Columbia. And it worked.

Andrews would not identify the company but said it would go public in September, work closely with MU on research, promote collaboration on projects with MU faculty, offer student internships and net at least 20 more jobs for county residents.

The development authority, which formed in 1979 under a Missouri statute, typically issues bonds to organizations working on projects that emphasize job creation and economic development in Boone County. But that practice has slowed in the past five years, said Gary Fennewald, vice chair of the development authority.

“That’s been attractive when interest rates are high, and that’s not the case right now,” Fennewald said. “So we haven’t had a lot of (bond) applications recently.”

Couple that reality with an almost 30-year accumulation of money the development authority accrued as investors paid filing fees for bond applications, and there’s now money to be had for nonprofit and government organizations working on projects related to the authority’s mission.

Grant applications can be found on the development authority’s Web site, The application deadline is July 31. After submission, the application is reviewed by the development authority committee and scored. The criteria, also found online, include whether the proposed project will support Boone County residents, whether it meets established policies and whether it promises a good return on the development authority’s investment.

“I try to follow that criteria pretty closely,” Fennewald said. “I think one of the things that scoring looks at is if the organization is going to create jobs in Boone County.”

The development authority has another $50,000 to $60,000 this year for its grant program, IDA President J. Scott Christianson said. Once that money runs out, it will fold back into its regular function of issuing bonds.

“There’s no specific amount allocated for each year,” said Tom Schneider, the development authority’s legal counsel. “The IDA has a finite amount of resources at this point.”

The goal, however, is to put those resources to use.

“We wanted to get the money back out and working in the community, especially as times are tough,” Christianson said.

He said he hopes this year’s applications will come from several organizations asking for smaller grants, instead of one entity asking for a large sum.

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