Cole County OKs $150,000 for Chamber

The Cole County Commission approved renewing the county’s contract with the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce to help the county with economic development.

The amount approved at Wednesday’s meeting, $150,000, was the same amount the commission approved last year.

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Randy Allen and his staff showed commissioners a presentation that was given earlier this month to the Jefferson City Council, which will consider renewing the city’s contract with the chamber later this year.

Allen said the chamber is putting more effort into work force development to keep and train workers already in place.

To that end, chamber officials noted they were given $1 million in grant funding from the state to train 130 low to moderate income students in computer skills. This program, which will be done through area schools that have partnered with the chamber, will start this fall.

Among the business successes chamber officials pointed out was more than $26 million in investments made by three local companies, Alpla, Unilever and Modine, to bring in 86 jobs with a total payroll of over $3.1 million.

Mark Mehmert, the chamber’s community development manager, pointed out 95 percent of the business space in the downtown area is now occupied.

Allen noted between 2006 and 2012, more than $4.1 million had been expended by the chamber on economic development projects.

Commissioners thanked the chamber for its work and said they believed the money was well spent.

In other action Wednesday, commissioners approved an engineering contract with Bartlett & West for putting in sidewalks along Rainbow Drive and Pioneer Trail Road near Pioneer Trails Elementary School.

The contract is worth $115,000.

The county was awarded a grant from MoDOT through the Safe Routes to School Program for the maximum amount of $250,000.

The county will not need to put up matching funds or pay back the money.

However, the county will have to find additional funding sources to do engineering work before it knows the final construction cost estimate.

The project has to be bid by next year.

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