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JDA plans more downtown building tours

By Staff | Mar 13, 2020

Plans for another Tour of Possibilities and Main Street grant applications topped the agenda for the regular March meeting of the Rugby Job Development Authority Wednesday.

Board members mentioned the success of the first tour organized by the Rugby JDA in October 2018 and discussed bringing the tour back this spring with a few modifications.

JDA Executive Director Liz Heisey told the board, “We were looking at a day when we could do something in the next month or so, make it about 5:00 to 8:00 pm and have drinks and hors d’oeuvres in the Buck’s building.”

Heisey said the building, which formerly housed Buck’s Sporting Goods, would be an ideal location to show potential buyers its possible uses and present information on financial incentives such as renaissance zone tax breaks.

“We were looking at breaking (the tour) up into a series. Real Estate 7 has the Buck’s building listed, so we reached out to them to see if we could rent it for a day and make it like a pop-up presentation about the building and offer information on the Flex Pace program and give out information on (financing and other options),” Heisey said.

Heisey said she and Rugby Mayor Sue Steinke met representatives from a town in Montana at an Economic Development North Dakota conference who did something similar.

“I believe they do theirs once a month,” Heisey said. “They decorate the building and have hors d’oeuvres and drinks and set up an atmosphere to share ideas and offer resources on funding and how you can make it all happen.”

The board did not decide on a date to begin the tour.

Heisey also told the board the city of Rugby’s renaissance zone designations were up for renewal and she was working with Rugby City Auditor Jennifer Stewart to update the application to renew the designation.

“The purpose of a renaissance zone is to revitalize the core of a community by providing specific tax incentives to encourage reinvestment in properties,” Heisey noted.

“Qualifying properties are eligible for 100% property tax exemption for five years on the improvements. New construction on property that has been demolished is also eligible for program,” she added, indicating a map of Rugby properties eligible for the renaissance zone program.

“If you need more information, I certainly can give you that information. Applications are available on the JDA website and the City of Rugby website. They do, once the application’s completed, it’s submitted to the city auditor and she will take it from there,” Heisey added.

“Any project does have to be approved prior to any construction to be eligible. It takes about three weeks to get the whole process approved,” Heisey noted.

Board member Gary Kraft asked how the renaissance zone program would be advertised for property developers and buyers to take advantage of the incentives.

“Anytime a building permit goes out in a renaissance zone, they need to be notified it’s a renaissance zone,” Heisey said. “There are property tax incentives that come up like the single family homes they’re all eligible for property tax incentives outside of the zone.”

“I know there are a few that didn’t get notified (about the incentives),” Heisey added.

“Honestly, it should be right on the building permit application, even if it’s a box to check so you can get information,” Kraft suggested.

The board also heard from Andrea Boe of AE2S Communications.

“My official title is AE2S communications practice leader,” Boe told the board. “I work on strategy plans, communications plans and marketing plans for economic development in communities.”

Boe said she would assist the JDA to access funding available through North Dakota’s Main Street Initiative.

“Liz and I are going to be working after this meeting on some funding applications,” Boe noted. “The application is to be a Main Street Champion city so we can get some extra points on the Partners in Planning grant application and we’re doing a little strategy on how to best put that forth so we can get those funding dollars.”

Heisey also told the board information on grants available to the community had been updated on the JDA’s website.

In other business, the board reviewed financials for February, which included a bill from the Bank of North Dakota for a Flex Pace loan to Home of Economy in the amount of $7, 221.16. Heisey informed the board that $2,000 in Flex Pace funds were paid to the JDA in a refund from Samsara Cues. The board also reviewed a bill for consulting services from Rugby attorney Galen Mack, who assisted in drawing up a contract between the JDA and Home of Economy for the Flex Pace loan.

Heisey reported an arrangement to work from a remote location for periods of time each month has been successful. The board agreed with her assessment and voted to extend the remote work arrangement for another month.

The board also discussed launching a survey aimed at gauging interest in local business expansion and retention. The board suggested making the survey available both electronically and on paper copies.

The JDA board will next meet April 8.

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