- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 9, 2014

HALSTEAD, Kan. (AP) - Halstead is offering financial incentives aimed at encouraging people to move to the south-central Kansas city.

It is offering Chamber Bucks, which can be spent only in Halstead, for city and school expenses and at most of its businesses, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1mXhqKz ).

The city will provide $25 Chamber Bucks for signing up for utilities or enrolling a child in school, and up to $1,500 for a new resident with a new student and new job in town. A newly built house earns $2,500 Chamber Bucks.

“You hear about incentive programs all the time, but this one is unique,” said Bill Charlsen, president of the Halstead Chamber of Commerce. “It has enough teeth in it to move somebody to come here or bring their children here.”


Halstead, a city of about 1,800 residents northwest of Wichita, has been trying to adapt it lost hundreds of high-paying jobs when Halstead Hospital closed in 2002 and the Hertzler Clinic closed soon after that.

City administrator J.R. Hatfield came up with the Chamber Bucks idea a few months ago after RedGuard, a Wichita company that makes blast-resistant containers, bought the closed-down Skyline Homes plant in Halstead last year. RedGuard promised to create 60 jobs but also received a 100 percent tax abatement for 10 years.

Hatfield said he wanted ways to make up the $22,000 in property tax per year that Skyline wouldn’t be paying on the vacant plant.

He said the Chamber Bucks program will largely pay for itself with increased tax revenue. The committee overseeing the program has about $10,000, and has commitments from the city, school district and chamber for another $28,000 if needed.

“If this works, everybody wins,” Hatfield said.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com