HFED Celebrates 2021 Highlights and Welcomes New Board Members at Annual Meeting | News
The Hiawatha Foundation for Economic Development held its annual meeting Thursday, January 20 at the Fisher Community Center.
Board Chair Virginia Freese welcomed everyone and later that evening led the group in approving minutes, financial statements and voting new board members. advice.
Members of the organization voted for new board members – Maxine Simmer, Wes Spohr and Debbie Phillips and Freese thanked outgoing board members Sheila Schwalm and Tony Stueve for their years of service.
Director Mikaela Moore told members and guests that HFED turned 40 this year.
“In 1981, HFED was founded as a non-profit organization and has had 4 decades of success in recruiting and retaining businesses in Hiawatha through the sale or donation of land and other incentives and resources for new businesses,” she said.
Moore said that from selling or donating land to businesses or nonprofits to start or grow to recruiting some of Hiawatha’s largest employers still in business today, HFED has played an essential role in the success of our community.
“None of this would have been possible without you and our members,” she said. “Thank you to our loyal members and the City of Hiawatha and Brown County for their support! »
Moore gave highlights of HFED activity over the past year, including recruiting and business retention.
Moore said HFED has sold three lots just east of Best Western to a new business owner who will open a visible location off the highway for tourists and locals to enjoy as a site for camping/glamping.
HFED paid the second installment of the Kansas Transition Program to help the hospital successfully recruit a new physician to come to Hiawatha this summer. Moore said HFED spent a total of $16,000 over 3 years to support this program which aims to help recruit doctors to rural hospitals in KS by providing incentives to reduce their student loan burden.
Moore said that over the past 2 years, HFED has had serious discussions with three different companies that will bring jobs to Hiawatha. Companies are interested in the 30 acres available in Iowa.
“All three were very promising, and we met with them extensively, but ultimately factors beyond our control such as COVID, a new owner, and investor requirements for location prevented these projects from moving forward. “Moore said. “While our behind-the-scenes efforts may not always be evident due to confidentiality, we work year-round to attract businesses to the community. “
HFED continues to sponsor and administer the Brown County Microcredit for Small Business Startup or Expansion, and the Rural Opportunity Zone to help attract college graduates to Hiawatha to live and work through a program incentive that pays a portion of the beneficiary student. loans.
Although this highlight is from 2020, Moore said HFED was very proud to sponsor a program to award $42,000 in COVID relief grants to small businesses in Brown County. 42 companies, all applicants and eligible, received a grant of $1,000.
“It was really important because it was before the federal packages were available, so it may have served as word of mouth until it happened at a time when many of our small businesses were struggling. pay their expenses with little or no income. ,” she said.
The guest speaker for the evening was Jeff Perry, President and CEO of Amberwell Health in Hiawatha and Atchison.
Perry, also a HFED board member, is originally from Texas and has worked at Amberwell for a year. He spoke about the growth and sustainability within the organization which has proven to be profitable. Although he didn’t dwell much on COVID, Perry noted that there was a lot of misinformation out there. While some large facilities have closed COVID beds — he said it’s not because there are too many patients, but because there are too few staff. He said that over the past two years healthcare workers have been in a constant state of crisis, which is wearing people down, so many people have left the industry.
“We are not in a COVID crisis, we are in a workforce crisis,” he said.
Perry also talked about the Amberwell Health model, which attracted Atchison and Hiawatha hospitals — two critical care access hospitals that were struggling financially. While the two hospitals operate as individual units, the merger with Amberwell Health has allowed each to see successes they would not have achieved on their own.
Perry also spoke about moving forward in Hiawatha, as hospital officials consider aging infrastructure that will need to be addressed. Amberwell Hiawatha also announced the arrival of three new providers, as well as a surgeon who will join the outpatient clinic. He said they plan to continue recruitment for specialist services to keep patients from having to travel for procedures.