The Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop is hoping to make some improvements and has requested that the County Commission sponsor them in applying for a grant.

A representative from the Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop (PCSW), Samantha Kramer, requested that the Pulaski County Commission sponsor them in request- ing a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to make improvements to their facility in Richland.

Kelly Sink-Blair, of the Meramec Regional Planning Com- mission accompanied Kramer to make the request of the commission. According to Kramer, PCSW must have a sponsoring city or county in order to request the grant.

CDB grants are provided by the federal government to communities and organizations making improvements that will provide opportunities to expand economic development.

PCSW provides employment to individuals with mental and physical disabilities.

Kramer told commissioners that PCSW hopes to use the grant money to make improvements to the building and grounds of the Workshop in order to support current projects and programs the organization has begun.

"We're trying to replace things that we normally do with things that pay better, not for money but to be more sustainable," Kramer said.

Thanks to changing rules and regulations, Workshops are moving toward competitive integrated employment, meaning that workers need to make minimum wage. PCSW has been putting a lot of its energy into agriculture in the last couple of years and training its workers in that field.

Kramer told commissioners that the Workshop has been engaged in the training farm on Fort Leonard Wood and currently manages Fort Leonard Wood's Farmer's Market. Additionally, the workshop would like to support farmers in the area and create job opportunities for their workers.

According to Kramer, PCSW is interested in creating a community kitchen at its facility.

Kramer said she knew of a hydroponic lettuce farmer in the area that could sell to grocery stores, but has no time or space for packing and bagging. She also gave an example of another farmer who is taking his animals for butchering in one location and then another to have it packaged.

Kramer said PCSW would, with the grant, be able to provide the space and workforce to provide packaging for the farmers.

Commissioners discussed the request, asking questions about PCSW's programs and goals, as well as the likelihood that PCSW would win their grant request.

Sink-Blair said that it was a competitive grant and that other entities would be seeking the grant as well, but that "Workshops do score very well" and confidence was high that they may win the grant. It was discussed that Rolla's Workshop got funding in this same way.

Kramer also requested that the commission donate five of its grant writing hours to the workshop and reported that Richland already donated five of its as well. Commissioners voted to donate five hours.

After some discussion about the filling out of forms, how much support Pulaski County Clerk Brent Bassett would get in filling out paperwork, commissioners voted to sponsor PCSW's request for them to sponsor the grant.