COVID-19 Presser

Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid addressed the first known case of COVID-19 in the county. (File Photo)

The J.K. Northway Exposition Center will get additional funding for renovation efforts, after Kleberg County officials announced they have been awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development Grant in the amount of $175,000.

A Rural Business Development Grant is a USDA program designed to provide technical assistance and training for small rural businesses. Small means that the business has fewer than 50 new workers and less than $1 million in gross revenue, according to the USDA website.

Funds may be used for training and technical assistance, such as project planning, economic developments, long-term business strategic planning, leadership and entrepreneur training and various other business related activities. 

At last Thursday’s Kleberg County Commissioners meeting, Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid said the county applied for the grant in hopes that it may be used toward renovation efforts of the J.K. Northway Exposition Center for the Kleberg Regional Public Safety Training and Emergency Operations Command Center project.

The project, which has been in the works since early 2019, will create a regional training facility for first responders in the area, and an emergency command center for any natural disasters in the future.

The facility will also be used for academic training for Texas A&M University-Kingsville, educational enhancement training for teachers in the local school districts and an upgraded site to host regional events in the area like the Kleberg-Kenedy County Junior Livestock Show.

The latest grant will also aid in making the J.K. Northway a hub or “business incubator,” so business owners can have resources to assist them with applying for grants, training and accomplishing other business related tasks, which Madrid said was “essential” to economic development in the area.

Madrid said they had originally applied for $350,000 for the project, but was happy with the award amount.

“It was a long shot grant that we applied for,” Madrid said at the commissioners’ meeting. “It’s better than a ‘poke in the eye.’ We got half of what we asked for… There are a lot of business opportunities available.”

In other Kleberg County business:

-Kleberg County Clerk Stephanie Garza announced her offices, along with Kleberg County Tax Assessor-Collector Melissa De La Garza’s offices will be closed to the public until further notice. The offices will still be in operation by telephone or online;

-The county also received grant awards from the Texas Department of Transportation County Transportation Infrastructure Fund Grant Program in the amount of $212,378 with a 10 percent match, and from the Rural Volunteer Fire Department Assistance Program Grant in the amount of $20,000, with a 20 percent match from the county.

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