Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
It wasn’t as exciting as the Super Bowl…but at least the 2020 NFL draft provided new entertainment. Chiefs’ fans however had to wait until long into the evening for the last (32nd) pick of the 1st round. I stayed up to watch the first round but admit I fell asleep on pick 30…2 picks before the Chiefs selected Clyde Edwards-Helaire, a running back from LSU. It just got way past my bedtime…and I couldn’t make it!! Normally I don’t sit and watch the draft…but like I said – it was something new…and I’ll admit it was more interesting this year – seeing all the athletes sitting in their homes with their parents, grandparents and siblings and all the coaches in their homes, surrounded by their children and families. I think the NFL should consider this version of the draft going forward. 
 
Update on Legacy Square:
 
There are a couple of updates on the Square this week…nothing too exciting, but as I said we are looking for new news and anything different. The bridge which will be placed in the vicinity of the restrooms has been completed by City workers…and was shipped to be painted this week (pictures here). Also…due to the hard work of Wynndee Lee, we have received a couple of grants for the improvement of 1st Street and also the playground at Legacy Square. Therefore this work will be completed this summer. Hopefully by the end of summer we can stage a large festival at Legacy Square to celebrate just being back together!!  With all the talk of a second round of virus and COVID returning I suppose we shouldn’t get our hopes up…but I’m going to stay positive and be optimistic that we will able to do a little celebrating to blow off some pent up quarantine and isolation energy!!
 
More CARES Money approved:
 
Yesterday, Congress approved another $484 billion of COVID relief, economic stimulus money…within the bill is approximately another $300 billion to help small and medium businesses with payroll, rent and regular business expenses…all from being forced to stay closed. Here is a quick summary of the breakdown of the latest stimulus support package and how the dollars will be disbursed. Because of this recent legislation all the links below still remain important:
 
The links below are new and updated resources the U.S. Chamber has developed to assist businesses access resources created under the CARES Act.
 
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued guidance regarding the Paycheck Protection Program. Links to the resources provided by Treasury can be found below, or on their webpage.
  • A top-line overview of the program can be found here.
  • If you’re a lender, more information can be found here.
  • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found here.
  • The application for borrowers can be found here.
 
In visiting with several of our bankers, I know over $14 million of this forgivable money is finding its way into local businesses…good!! That is what we want…the idea is to help make it possible to rebound once this pandemic passes. I encourage any business which hasn’t taken advantage of these funds do so now…I’m not certain how many more stimulus legislation bills there will be going forward. 
 
Unsung High School Heroes:
 
The Franklin County Optimist Club recently announced their Unsung Hero recipients for the 2019/2020 school year…the Unsung Hero Program is a program that recognizes students at the high school level that have overcome adversity, an obstacle or difficulty in their life and has successfully kept a positive attitude and worked through those difficulties to be successful…both in school, and in their personal life. Eight Ottawa students are being honored.
Our local Optimist Club began honoring unsung students in 2008…now each year the club recognizes 8 students, 2 from each grade, for their ability to be successful in spite of the difficulties that they have experienced. The students are nominated by the staff at Ottawa High School. The names and nomination forms are forwarded to a selection committee, where the final selections are made. Each student receives a certificate and a check for $50…good job Optimists – thanks for recognizing efforts of students with challenges. 
 
Census Update:
 
In one week, Franklin County has inched its way into the top 10 of self-responding counties…coming in at tenth with 59.9% self-responding. And…Kansas is ninth in the nation at 56.4% self-reported (the national rate is 51.6%). There really are winners in this census “contest”. Our ability to create an accurate count improves our local funding for: libraries, schools, hospitals and health clinics, Head Start, school meal programs, public transportation, housing assistance, Medicare, supplemental nutrition assistance program, fire departments, roads/highways and community centers. This year’s deadline for the census has been extended to October 31.
 
Stay Strong Ottawa!!:
 
For over a month we have been social distancing and sheltering in place…a life none of could have fathomed…but one in which we are all learning new ways to cope and manage. I hope you are staying mentally strong and physically healthy…we all need to rebound from this and learn new ways to be safe going forward. Stay strong Ottawa!! I can’t wait to greet you all again in normal fashion.
 
Talk to you next week…
 
Onward ~ John
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000