City plans to use ARPA funding to help businesses | News, Sports, Jobs


Colecraft CEO Dave Messinger discusses his business at a Jamestown City Council meeting last week. Photo submitted

Jamestown officials are proposing to use $10 million of the $28 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to help businesses and manufacturers located in the city.

On Monday, Crystal Surdyk, the city’s director of development, presented a draft of the economic development plan that city officials created on how to spend ARPA funding to help businesses. She said several meetings have been held and phone calls have been made to hear from manufacturers, restaurants, retailers and the city’s professional services sectors to determine how they think the money could be used. best to help economic development. She said city officials took what they were told to expand the program categories and how much money will be available for each.

Programs include $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 those programs totaled $4.25 million, with $5.75 million still available to be used for other projects. She said that when programs begin, city officials need to be flexible about the amount of money allocated to each program because some programs may be more popular than others and may eventually require additional funding.

At-Large Advisor Kimberly Ecklund said she was concerned about the monetary numbers for each of the programs. As a senior product data manager/cost analyst for Bush Industries, she said $1.5 million for new machines couldn’t help several manufacturers in town. She also said that $750,000 for expensive software wouldn’t last long either.

“I think we might be shooting ourselves in the foot because we’re only helping one or two companies or whatever, and that’s not what’s planned with the ARPA funding,” she said. “So I have some concerns. I know the cost of new equipment. I know the cost of new software. New technology doesn’t come cheap, so I guess I’m getting out, I’m a little concerned about the funding for it.

Surdyk said if that’s the case, the money could just help a company fund a percentage of the costs of a new machine instead of buying the whole item.

Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist also said this is only a draft proposal on how to spend ARPA’s economic development funding, and council is encouraged to review the plan and ask questions to help create a quality program.

COLECRAFT

Prior to Surdyk’s presentation on ARPA’s economic development programs, Dave Messinger, CEO of Colecraft, discussed his company that manufactures high-end commercial office furniture with the board. He said that at the start of the pandemic, when Colecraft was closed because it was not considered an essential business, the company lost 30% of its sales. He added that company officials had conducted a study to rethink what they were doing to make the company more sustainable.

Messinger said company officials created a strategic business plan, which included starting to manufacture furniture for new business areas. He said they are also working on building brand awareness and investing in new technology. He added that Colecraft will spend $390,000 on new equipment and $142,000 on marketing this year. Messinger said the company is also in the process of increasing its workforce from 25 to 41 employees.



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