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Downsized JDA board discusses Rugby marketing

By Staff | May 31, 2019

The downsized Job Development Authority board held their regular monthly meeting last Thursday with new Executive Director Liz Heisey presenting information on financials and programs.

Although budget matters filtered into discussion topics such as JDA programs and contract renewals for such services as real estate sales for Chalmers property, board members had a chance to exercise their creativity to market the JDA and Rugby.

Heisey presented her case for including marketing and promotion in the JDA’s budget, noting Rugby’s distinction as the geographical center of North America could serve to attract more businesses and jobs to the city.

Heisey and Mayor Sue Steinke said they came up with a tagline for promotional materials: “Center your business in Rugby”.

Board members responded enthusiastically to the idea.

“Centered in Rugby,” said board member Susan Selensky, and smiled.

“We are the geographical center; we need to use it,” Steinke noted.

The board discussed using several different media options for ads and promotion, including DVDs to send to businesses and purchasing a display ad in the Rugby Visitors’ Guide.

The board also discussed delineating roles for the JDA so their focus would stay with the agency and not cross over to roles filled by the Rugby Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.

The board examined using resources to promote tourism, and fitting retail businesses in their media mix, either indirectly by drawing Rugby tourists to local businesses, or using retail attractions to draw visitors to the community and encouraging them to stop by other businesses.

JDA Vice Chairman Rob St. Michel told the board, “It is retail that funds this group; it’s the retail sales when you have an anchor in town, like a Shopko, it also does bring wealth in from other places; especially south of us, and before Wal-Mart, north of us as well.”

The board asked for updates from Steinke on possible occupants for the vacant Shopko building. Steinke said she wasn’t aware of any new developments, but she had made the building’s owners aware of various programs and incentives the JDA offers to help possible building occupants.

“I’ve had this discussion that there are many of these programs,” Steinke said.

The board also revisited their decision to pay off an $83,000 loan for the Johnson Clinic, and its impact on the budget.

Another item the board re-examined was the role different programs could play in providing help to businesses and changing policies and procedures to designate and define the roles of programs that assist businesses such as retail shops.

Steinke recommended “(changing) the procedures and policies in the JDA manual as we find the discrepancies and changes we want to make, as we go along, not completion of reviewing the whole binder.”

Other budget matters included preparing for an audit of the 2018 budget and drafting a preliminary 2020 budget, which must be completed by June.

St. Michel requested a format that would allow for side-by-side comparison with budgets from previous years.

Other business discussed in the meeting included budgeting for programs through the Souris Basin Planning Council to grow North Central North Dakota communities; obtaining services from the Minot Small Business Development Center to aid small businesses and entrepreneurs, and JDA staff benefits.

The board also discussed and approved renewing non-exclusive contracts with three real estate agencies hired to sell Chalmers property; the sale of Chalmers lot 7, block 6, and explaining 2018 budgets versus actuals in advance of its upcoming audit.

After approving correspondence received and inviting members to attend an Economic Development North Dakota conference in Mandan June 17-19, the board adjourned.

The JDA will hold its next regular meeting June 27 at 12 p.m.

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