Over 35 attend Goshen County grant workshop

January 19, 2018

TORRINGTON—Over 35 people attended a grant workshop hosted by Goshen County Economic Development, with the aim of educating local businesses and organizations about money available to help local projects.

GCED CEO Ashley Harpstreith told the crowd that grant money is useful, but has its limits.

“It’s not free money,” she said. “Usually, it’s not working capital. It’s not for startups, it’s not for debt consolidation. It’s usually tangible items that we’re trying to find for our community grants.”

Harpstreith said she wants local groups to know what grants are available.

“A lot of times, people have projects and aren’t sure which direction to go from there,” she said. “We can help them connect the dots of what direction makes sense for the project they’re working on.”

The grant money must be used within Goshen County to fund infrastructure improvements, exterior work, local events and shows, and other community enhancing projects.

“The first step is to have a solid vision,” she said, “and a solid strategy of what you’re trying to accomplish.”

The next step would be to approach GCED about which grants can help and apply for them. For this stage, Harpstreith said it’s important to have every part of the proposal squared away before it is submitted to GCED.

“A lot of times, we’re seeing people submit right on the deadline,” she said. “They haven’t proofed it so it gets in front of our lodging tax board or the progress program committee and there’s a bunch of stuff missing so they miss out on that funding opportunity.”

GCED is involved in four local fund sources: the GCED’s Progress Program fund, paid for with the 0.25 percent sales tax, for business beautification projects, community enhancements and municipality infrastructure projects; a lodging tax grant based on the 4 percent lodging tax to promote events that will bring tourism to Goshen County;a community pride foundation, using money from endowments, that is used for youth recreational activities; and miscellaneous grants dispersed by the recreation board.

Harpstreith added that there are federal and state grants available, but “those are going to be for big and massive projects,” she said. “If we get to the point that we’re pointing you at state or federal funding, we’re going to be working with you pretty closely.”

Projects, she said, typically have to be pre-approved before work begins, which requires consultation with GCED staff before the application can be submitted. GCED usually requires photographs for publicity and receipt submissions for reimbursements.

“Pretty much any grant we work with that’s local, state or federally funded, they’re all reimburseable,” she said. “You have to pay for it and then we pay you back.”

For more information or to contact GCED, call Harpstreith at (307)532-5162.