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JDA board continues space discussion

By Staff | Aug 31, 2018

The Rugby Job Development Authority met at noon Thursday, August 23, for their regular meeting, in their office space at Hartley’s Mall.

Locating a new facility was on the JDA’s agenda, as members continued a discussion of possible space for administration and meetings in the Rugby railroad depot, or the building that once housed Buck’s Sporting Goods. Among the pros and cons for each possible site were the depot’s historical value, and the amount of space the Buck’s building had to offer.

Members also discussed the merits of leasing space versus purchasing buildings, and decided to continue their study of the issue at their September 27 meeting.

The board also carried a motion to appoint Rob St. Michel JDA Vice President.

In other business, the board voted to pay a $296.96 premium for fire and tornado insurance on the Lyric Theater, and discussed paying the $3,840 cost for mowing and landscaping on the Chalmers Addition parcel for the summer season.

JDA Executive Director Jessica Brossart reported Lot 1, Block 7 of the Chalmer’s Addition was sold, with the transaction finalized Wednesday, August 29.

Brossart reported she would reach out to local realtors in an effort to budget for advertising additional properties for sale in the Chalmers Addition.

Guests Penny Sigloh and Roughrider Pizza owners, siblings Mark and Barb Bercier, spoke to the group, proposing loan and financial arrangements on their business similar to those used by job development authorities in other communities.

Speaking on behalf of the Berciers, Sigloh, who owns a restaurant and clothing store in Kenmare, described interest buy down programs, and a matching grant program called Fund-Itt, which is available to local businesses in Kenmare.

“We’ve got it up and running, and we now have eight employees, and our payroll is $12,000,” Sigloh said.

Sigloh explained an interest buy down would fit Roughrider Pizza’s needs best, because, “this particular project doesn’t qualify for a flex loan. It isn’t a new business; it’s already been opened and closed several times.”

The Berciers, who said they owe $150,000 on a loan to start Roughrider Pizza, have already put lots of work into the building, Sigloh noted. “It was in bad shape before it was renovated,” she said.

Now, Sigloh continued, “The product is good, the place is clean, the town wanted this, and we’re employing people. That’s job development.”

Future plans for Roughrider Pizza include hiring delivery drivers.

The board decided to study the matter, and look to communities with population sizes similar to that of Rugby for models on which to base any local financing programs.

“It might behoove us to get a better picture of this,” said Mayor Sue Steinke.

St. Michel proposed looking into any role Rugby’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau may have, “because they cover restaurants and lodging.”

Other new business included a proposed tour of properties in need of extensive renovations. Called, “Tour the Potential”, the event will take place in October or November of this year, highlighting the possibilities in older Rugby buildings for new use and development.

The role a Brownfields designation on some distressed and toxic properties may play was also discussed. The Brownfields program is a grant through the Federal Environmental Protection Agency to aid in the cleanup of toxic materials in buildings. Brossart said Rugby may be eligible to participate in the program, which involves a lengthy, detailed application process.

“There are all sorts of stipulations (to the process),” Brossart said, noting that approval for the grants would make it worth the applicants’ time. The Brownfields funding amounts depend on need, and are on a case-by-case basis.

Brossart announced her intention to attend the Souris Basin Planning Council’s Economic Development Seminar in Minot August 30th. The meeting then adjourned.

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