Dear Chamber Supporters:
 
This was a busy week…and wet! My rain gauge had 5.5” of rain this week…we had been dry, but I think we are caught up for the moment. A year ago, we were plunging headfirst into the pandemic and the shutting down of the nation…today, the future seems much more optimistic. We are far from in the clear on this thing, but the whole COVID deal has a different feel now. Here is this week’s update…only 17 active cases (down 1 from last week). Officials still warn to remain vigilant…this from our own Dr. Bud Ransom, Franklin County Public Health Officer:
 
“At this time, I am extremely concerned that we will witness an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases as more people abandon or relax the measures that have proven to be effective in limiting the transmission of the virus.” 
 
You can read Dr. Bud’s full letter to Franklin Countians here. We certainly need to heed the warning…but with vaccines rolling out and the weather warming up, spring and optimism are in the air.
 
Franklin County has begun to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and continues to receive and administer the Moderna inoculations. To date, over 7,000 local citizens have received a shot…this is a combination of those getting first shots and second doses. Over 2,000 are now 100% vaccinated with their second shot…I’m in this number (here is the complete report). I think it’s at least fair to say we are on the offense and now chasing the virulent pandemic the other direction…and that feels good! Sign up for your vaccination at 785.229.3531. 
 
KANSAS Magazine:
 
Ottawa received more earned positive press this week with an article in this quarter’s KANSAS Magazine…full article here. Jeff Carroll, owner of Ottawa Bike and Trail on Main Street, and a great Ottawa Ambassador, was featured in a story about our local trails and Legacy Square. Jeff tells how our trails have been a respite for a community locked away from friends and neighbors…and the allure of the trails as access to the great outdoors is causing many cyclists and hikers to come to our community to take advantage of the long Kansas paths. Jeff also uses the article space to regale Ottawa as a community committed to self-improvement. Ottawa Bike and Trail is a fabulous addition to our Main Street…thank you Jeff for your commitment – and for choosing Ottawa for your business!
 
Downtown Improvements and Additions: 
 
Speaking of downtown…there continues to be an uptick of activity and growth. Here are pictures from inside Maggie’s Popcorn…Mary had torn down the wall between two stores and is putting in an ice cream parlor!! Wow…and YEA!! She will have 18 flavors as well as shakes, malts and sundaes…also included will be indoor seating. What a great addition to our Main Street!! I can’t wait to take my grandkids in!
 
And Jeff Carroll continues to make improvements to his business too…here are pictures of his new sign on the front of his store in the 100 block which adds a bit of spruce up to downtown. We already receive many compliments on how great our downtown looks…it’s because our businesses continue to grow and make improvements to the shopping area.
 
And maybe the biggest news this week is Luigi’s has reopened…under new ownership too!! Here are a few pictures from inside of new owner Kristin Randell. Closed because of a fire, Kristin purchased the business and has cleaned up and redecorated the space…and included in the changes is a new lounge and fun space she fondly refers to as the Speakeasy. It will be a great place to get a cup of coffee or a drink…use the internet…or just relax. Cherry and I ate there Tuesday evening…the food was great and so was the atmosphere. I recommend you stop in and reacquaint yourself with the restaurant and good Italian food!!
 
Ottawa Main Street Association (OMSA):
 
Staying with the theme of downtown…the Ottawa Main Street Association wanted the Chamber to let you know they are re-grouping and working for continued improvement and more good things in the downtown. They have a new Facebook page and are now located at @MainStreetOttawaKs. In addition to a new Facebook location, they have a new physical location too…122-B South Main Street. The group is searching for a new director…if you know a qualified person, let Mary Raley know (785.521.4178). The OMSA’s main goal remains to create a vibrant experience for customers and visitors to the downtown…all while preserving and improving the historic district.  
 
Ottawa Library:
 
It was fun to hear children’s voices singing in the downtown this week…maybe another sign of spring!?! The Ottawa Library brought their young fans and readers to a story hour in Haley Park across from the Chamber (pictures here). Paula Patterson was leading the activity…after reading a story or two they also sang several children’s songs. It was exceptionally melodious and fun to watch…another benefit of warmer weather! We gratefully appreciate all our library does for our community…not only for our youngsters but for all ages. They are a linchpin in making us a well-rounded and complete community.
 
American Rescue Plan Act:
 
This is the name of the third government-funded stimulus plan signed into law by President Biden this week…$1.9 trillion COVID relief dollars. Check your bank accounts…all Americans should receive $1,400.00 in personal stimulus checks. Ottawa will receive $1.72 million in relief dollars. This plan also provides dollars for education too…Kansas will receive $349 billion for child care, 8.016 billion for Head Start, $876 billion for K-12 and $325 billion for higher education.
 
Small business wasn’t overlooked either…the American Rescue Plan will assist small businesses in the following ways:
  • $7.25 billion in additional funding for PPP loans.
  • $10 billion allocated to state governments through the State Small Business Credit Initiative, helping leverage private capital and make low-interest loans to help small business economies recover.
  • $15 billion in additional funds for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program for small businesses in underserved areas, such as those owned by minorities.
  • $29 billion for a grant program designed to provide direct relief to restaurants.
  • $15 billion to the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants program, providing operators of closed venues such as museums, theaters, and concert halls additional aid.
  • $1.325 billion in funding for the Small Business Administration to help them continue to administer new programs.
You can go here to read a complete summary of what the relief act does for businesses…here is the link for all the funding programs and the applications. This is a big chunk of change being dropped into the economy!   
 
I imagine you all are as glad as I am today is Friday…seems like this has been a tiring week. here are a few random grandkid pictures from the week.
 
Stay safe and well…talk to you next week.
 
Onward ~ John  
 
John Coen
President/CEO
Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce
785-242-1000