County Creates Contractors’ Incentive Program
Written By: Becca Robbins, H&N Staff Reporter
The Klamath County Board of Commissioners launched a program that will provide grant funding for those looking to become contractors in the area to build new housing projects.
The Contractor Incentive Program will fund up to $5,650 of fees associated with things like licensing and certifications for an applicant.
Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said the idea was born out of brainstorming with a former industry professional she knew about ways to eliminate some barriers to those looking to enter the field.
“He said taking the test is expensive, getting the insurance that you need, getting bonded, all of these up-front costs to start might sound little if you look at them just as one thing — the testing fee $400 — but if you put the whole list of things together that you truly need to get started, if you haven’t been doing it, it can cost upward of $5,000. And if you haven’t been working and you don’t have your foot in the door, where do you get that money?”
Housing has been a problem in Klamath County, Morris said, and is a major hurdle for new professionals looking to come to the area.
“We all know that our housing stock is low, the quality of our housing stock leaves something to be desired and the ability for people to get into rentals. Our rate of rentals that are available is so small. It’s smaller than the state average and smaller than the national average. So we know across the board, whether it’s rentals or housing stock we are in great need in this community.”
In the board’s focus on creating jobs, Morris said they are often confronted with the problem that a lack of affordable housing creates for job filling and recruitment.
“The reason why housing is so important is because it’s been a priority of our board and many of our partners to grow jobs. And when you’re talking about growing jobs and trying to attract more people to your community, whether it’s students for Oregon Tech or people to work on some of the big projects that are in the works, when you’re talking about those things, you can’t miss the fact that if you’re bringing more people to the community or getting more people employed, they need a place to live. It goes hand and hand,” she said. “One piece that keeps coming up as a challenge when you talk about getting more housing stock is who’s going to build them.”
While there is no maximum number of grants the board has set that it will award, Morris said they will evaluate the number of applications they’ve received after about six months to determine the success of the program.
The board of commissioners will partner with the Klamath Basin Home Builders Association and Klamath County Economic Development Association for more technical expertise about the industry and the applications they receive.
“There’s certainly not one magic fix for this, but we need to tackle this from all angles,” she said.
In exchange for the board covering applicants’ fees, the board asks that applicants commit to working in the county for a year, and Morris said she see the demand for affordable housing driving the new contractors the program creates to develop new places to live.
“I will consider the program a success if we end up with at least a half a dozen to a dozen people that really are passionate about getting into this line of work and serving our community and that can use this seed money from the county to really build their own business that they can feel really proud of. If we can launch a new career for at least a handful of people, if not more, I think that I’d say that the program’s a success.”
For more information and the link to the application, visit klamathcounty.org/1033/Contractor-Incentive-Program