Grand Forks downtown group seeks city money
Grand Forks' Downtown Development Association is asking the city to help pay for the new group's start-up needs with $75,000 in city money, an amount that received an initial OK Monday. The DDA had already secured about $183,000 in private funds ...
Grand Forks’ Downtown Development Association is asking the city to help pay for the new group’s start-up needs with $75,000 in city money, an amount that received an initial OK Monday.
The DDA had already secured about $183,000 in private funds and was asking for the $75,000 that was already approved by the council under its “Go Downtown Effort,” contingent on private funding.
Monday’s recommendation was made with the intent of the city giving the DDA $75,000 each year for the next three years, after a review each year.
Jonathan Holth of the DDA told council members the group is working toward official nonprofit status, has secured office space downtown, has talked about partnering with other nonprofits and has already completed some projects like cigarette disposal and a community Christmas tree lighting.
Council members noted that they had previously asked the DDA to secure private funds and make a plan for the $75,000 before receiving it.
“I think the group has not only done what was asked of it, but has gone beyond that,” said council member Bret Weber.
The $75,000 would be used toward more projects and events, marketing, office expenses and hiring an executive director. According to the DDA budget provided, the executive director would receive $55,000 in salary and benefits in 2014, with annual raises through at least 2017.
A downtown association is helpful in bringing businesses into town, Holth said. As co-owner of the Toasted Frog restaurant downtown, he said when he looked at opening his downtown Bismarck location, he contacted Bismarck’s downtown association.
Council member Terry Bjerke asked how funding some of the DDA’s events would work, with additional costs like clean-up or extra policing.
Holth said that those details hadn’t been fully figured out, but that the group has budgeted for some of those extra costs already.
More than one council member praised the DDA for its work.
“We should embrace these young business leaders,” said council member Doug Christensen. “This is the future of our city.”