Questions and more information needed answered before Jamestown City Council votes on whether to allocate $3.75 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to economic development initiatives .
On Monday, the council tabled three resolutions focused on allocating federal stimulus funds to help businesses and manufacturers in the city at its monthly voting meeting. A resolution would have authorized city officials to use $1.5 million of ARPA money to help businesses buy equipment and upgrade machinery. Another tabled resolution would have allocated $1.5 million in stimulus funds for building and property infrastructure improvements. The third resolution would have allocated $750,000 in federal funding for improving internet technology for businesses in the city.
Council approved a resolution of the four proposed economic development initiatives. The group approved the allocation of $200,000 in stimulus funds to fund a small business grant program that will be aimed at helping the city’s restaurants, retail businesses and personal service businesses. The program will be administered by the Jamestown Local Development Corp. by the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency.
After the meeting, Anthony Dolce, chairman of the board, said he believed the board had approved the small business grant program because it is more detailed on how the money will be used to help small businesses. Also, he said there is more urgency to start this program to help local businesses.
Dolce said council is not opposed to the other three economic development programs, but issues need to be resolved and more information is needed. He said there were questions about funding – is it enough or is it too much – for the other programs.
“We are not saying that we are opposed to it” he said.
Last month, before the voting session meeting, Crystal Surdyk, the city’s director of development, presented the plan for ARPA’s two-phase economic development program to council. The first phase proposed to allocate $1.5 million for building/property infrastructure improvements; $1.5 million for new equipment and machinery upgrades; $750,000 for Internet technology improvements; and $500,000 for marketing and branding campaigns. Surdyk said the first phase would total $4.25 million.
The second phase of the plan included 12 programs totaling $5.75 million. Surdyk said four of the programs would help small businesses through workforce development, storefront improvements, new business development and the creation of a small business incubator.
The programs would also help businesses review what they are doing to attract more customers, funding to help entrepreneurs who help businesses in the city, money for property acquisition to spur economic development and city-wide branding funds.
It has also been proposed to use ARPA funding for the city’s Urban Development Action Grant Fund, which is the lending arm of Jamestown Local Development Corp. which provides business loans. ARPA funding is also proposed to go toward the Chadakoin River Strategic Business Plan to expand economic development opportunities around the river near the National Comedy Center.
City officials are also proposing to spend $1 million to fund a programming and events coordinator position and for downtown and waterfront programming. They also plan to fund $500,000 for the administration of ARPA’s economic development plan.
Before presenting the two phases of the economic development plan, the board also heard from Dave Messinger, CEO of Colecraft Commercial Furnishings, Joe Town, owner of Pace’s Pizzeria, Eric Hagglund, owner of 4 Below Haggy’s Bar and Grill, and Patti Centi, owner of the Landmark restaurant, about the need to allocate ARPA funds to businesses and makers in the community.