PITTSBURG, Kan. — Leaders with the City of Pittsburg met for the city commission’s first meeting in June, opening up its doors to the community for the first time since March. Social distancing guidelines in place, the commission faced a packed agenda featuring a new flag, grant funding, and new reopening guidelines for restaurants.
Pittsburg City Flag
Downtown Advisory Board chair, Sydney Anselmi, approached the commission with a vision for a new city flag — well, actually, three visions for a new city flag. The search for an official flag for the City of Pittsburg is down to three options — each symbolizing different parts of Pittsburg from the city’s rich mining history to traces of Pittsburg State University.
Anselmi explained to the council that the goal of having an official city flag is to unify citizens of the community with a sense of pride. More than 300 votes have been cast to decide which flag will be chosen to represent the city, but there is still time for residents to submit theirs. Voting will remain open until Saturday, June 13 and can be accessed at the Imagine Pittsburg 2030 website. The winner will be announced at Pittsburg’s “620 Day” on Saturday, June 20.
Quarterly Economic Report
As cities begin to pick up the pieces following the response to COVID-19, numbers now show how hard of an impact Pittsburg took in the early months of 2020. The Economic Development Quarterly Report was presented by Economic Development Director Blake Benson and Kansas Polymer Research Center Director Darrell Pulliam. The report shows that Pittsburg was previously at a 20-year low unemployment rate, sitting at about 3%, but almost overnight, it spiked to about nine percent.
To put things into perspective Benson says that those numbers are equivalent to what they were in 2008, when the city lost its largest private employer and the U.S. was hit with The Great Recession.
But, Pulliam and Benson say that it’s not all bad news. Staff with the Small Business Development Center at Pittsburg State have been working around the clock to get the economy back up and running with more than $1 million in funding secured for small businesses in town. That work has also rolled over into the community, with more than $70,000 raised through ‘Pittsburg Strong’ t-shirt sales and 5,000 face masks donated to more than 300 businesses in town.
Benson says that more information about COVID-19’s impact on Pittsburg will be shown in the next report, which will include numbers from April, May and June.
Community Health Center Addition
Construction on a new addition at the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas will soon be underway. A Family Medicine Rural Residency Program will make its way to the clinic’s Pittsburg campus and will serve as a training facility for medical students finishing their training to become doctors.
The city has supported the clinic’s project, giving the green light on $600,000 in funding on Tuesday night.
According to leaders with the CHC and City of Pittsburg economic experts, the addition is a great investment for the next generation of health care providers. As Economic Development Director, Blake Benson stated in the meeting,
“We want to show that Pittsburg is truly the hub for healthcare in Southeast Kansas by allowing our kids to become doctors without ever having to leave city limits.”
The structure will sit at 16,000 square feet and is valued at $6 million.
Update on CBD Production Faciltiy
More information was released on a new CBD processing facility that will soon be coming to town. City leaders gave the green light on a grant from Pittsburg’s Revolving Loan Fund on Tuesday night.
Colby Terlip, the owner of The Sunflower Hemp Company, approached the commission at the May 12 meeting, seeking funding to help pay for safety upgrades to a building in Pittsburg’s northeast industrial park. The request from that meeting was tabled in order to get clarification from the city’s Economic Advisory Committee but returned Tuesday night for another go.
The city’s share of the funding sits at $100,000 with the overall value of the facility sitting at about $1 million.
Schlanger Park Splash Pad
The pool at Schlanger Park will soon be replaced with a brand new splash pad. Roughly $270,000 in funding was awarded to Sunscape Pool & Backyard to begin construction in July. According to Parks and Recreation Director, Kim Vogel, it will take about 155 working days to complete the project.
Although the project is valued at more than a quarter-million-dollars, the funding was paid for in-part by donations through Everybody Plays and a grant through a Land and Water Conservation Fund. Work is expected to begin in July.
City leaders in Pittsburg are giving restaurants in town a little more wiggle room when it comes to reopening their lobbies. Tuesday, the City Commission approved a temporary ordinance that will allow businesses to expand operations onto the sidewalks in front of the building.
For a $50 fee, restaurants may obtain a license that will allow them to bring tables and seating outside — something not allowed under normal circumstances. The new ordinance goes into effect immediately and will stay in effect until further notice.