Grand Forks City Council denies TEDx event funding request
Organizers of a Grand Forks event will have to go elsewhere for funding after the City Council voted Monday to withhold city money from them.
TEDx Grand Forks, an event that would feature international, national and local speakers addressing a variety of topics, was denied $9,566 in funding recommended for it by the city's Special Events Committee.
The committee was chaired by council member Tyrone Grandstrand, who also serves as an organizer of TEDx along with his wife Becca. His presence in both groups had council member Dana Sande questioning the legitimacy of the committee's process.
"I don't doubt that there was no intention of doing anything wrong," Sande said. "I just don't believe he should have acted on any proposals at all."
Grandstrand said he followed proper procedure and recused himself from chairing the committee during discussion of TEDx and voting on the event's funding recommendation.
"We're interested in having a great event in Grand Forks ... we're not interested in monetary gains," Granstrand said, adding he and his wife would not be paid for organizing the event.
While they voted against funding TEDx, Sande and several other council members said they thought the event would be great for Grand Forks, but expressed concerns about whether or not it met the Special Events Program requirements for receiving money.
Requirements include promoting Grand Forks as an entertainment, recreation and tourism center and attracting visitors from outside of the community or region. Funding preference is given to new or home-grown events and events that bring in visitors.
TEDx organizers noted their event would be the first TED event in Grand Forks and estimated 25 percent of attendees would be from outside the region.
The Special Events Program is funded through sales tax and would have distributed about $118,500 to 34 events if funding for TEDx had been approved.
The 33 other events received money as recommended by the Special Events Committee, but the money proposed for TEDx will remain in the program fund for use in 2015.
With the option of city funding gone, TEDx organizers will have to find the money somewhere else.
The Grand Forks Convention and Visitor's Bureau has contributed $5,000 toward the event's $23,000 budget. Before the council's vote, Becca Grandstand said organizers were still seeking other sponsors to cover the costs, most of which stem from the 12 speakers' travel and lodging costs.
The TEDx event would have an attendance cap of 100 people as mandated by the national TED organization, but that number can grow to 500 or more once several events have been held, according to Becca Grandstrand.
The cities of Fargo and Minot have hosted TEDx events, with Fargo's most recent event selling out within days of tickets becoming available. Of the people attending that event, 25 percent were from outside the region.
"TEDx Grand Forks has the same opportunity to make a major impact on the community," Becca Grandstrand said.
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