Council Approves Funding For Small Businesses

Questions need to be answered and more information is needed before the Jamestown City Council will vote on possibly allocating $3.75 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds toward economic development initiatives.

On Monday, the council tabled three resolutions focused on allocating federal stimulus money toward assisting city businesses and manufacturers during its monthly voting session meeting. One resolution would have authorized city officials to use $1.5 million of ARPA money toward assisting businesses with purchasing equipment and machine upgrades. Another tabled resolution would have allocated $1.5 million in stimulus funding for building and property infrastructure improvements. The third resolution would have allocated $750,000 in federal funding for internet technology improvements for city businesses.

The council did approve one resolution of the four proposed economic development initiatives. The group approved allocating $200,000 of stimulus money to fund a small business grant program that will be targeted to assist restaurants, retail and personal service businesses in the city. The program will be administered through the Jamestown Local Development Corp. by the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency.

After the meeting, Anthony Dolce, council president, said he believes the council approved the small business grant program because it’s more detailed in how the money will be used to assist small businesses. Also, he said there is more of an immediate need to start this program to assist local businesses.

Dolce said the council is not opposed to the other three economic development programs, but questions need to be answered and more information is needed. He said there are questions when it comes to the funding – is it enough or is it too much – for the other programs.

“We’re not saying we are opposed to it,” he said.

Last month before the voting session meeting, Crystal Surdyk, city development director, presented the council the two-phase ARPA economic development program plan. Phase one proposed allocating $1.5 million for building/property infrastructure improvements; $1.5 million for new equipment and machine upgrades; $750,000 for internet technology improvements; and $500,000 for marketing and branding campaigns. Surdyk said phase one would total $4.25 million.

Phase two of the plan included 12 programs that would total $5.75 million. Surdyk said four of the programs would help small businesses through workforce development, storefront improvements, new business development and by establishing a small business incubator.

The programs would also help businesses revise what they are doing to attract more customers, funding to help contractors who assist city businesses, money for property acquisition to spur economic development and funds for citywide branding.

ARPA funding was also proposed to be used for the city’s Urban Development Action Grant fund, which is the Jamestown Local Development Corp.’s lending arm that provides loans to businesses. ARPA funding is also being 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 also propose spending $1 million toward funding for a programming and events coordinator position and for downtown and waterfront programming. They also plan to fund $500,000 toward the ARPA economic development plan’s administration.

Before presenting both phases of the economic development plan, the council also heard from Dave Messinger, Colecraft Commercial Furnishings CEO, Joe Town, Pace’s Pizzeria owner, Eric Hagglund, 4 Below Haggy’s Bar and Grill owner, and Patti Centi, Landmark Restaurant owner, about the need for ARPA funding to be allocated to businesses and manufactures in the community.

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