KENDALLVILLE – The Kendallville Redevelopment Commission is pledging a portion of its money to help the city hire a full-time Main Street manager.
With $ 20,000 in the commission, matching the similar $ 20,000 budgeted by Kendallville City Council, the city has a foundation to begin refining a job description and looking for someone to run downtown.
On Wednesday morning, committee members voted to provide $ 20,000 per year to Experience the Heart of Kendallville, the city’s official Main Street organization, for the next four years before reassessing that level of support.
The money will go to help pay the salary of a full-time Main Street manager, a position the city must create not only as a requirement of the $ 2 million preservation grant. main street which was recently assigned to it, but also in the long term. sustainability in the development and promotion of the city center.
The peak of hiring a new person to manage the downtown area was raised earlier this year at the behest of the Kendallville Area Chamber of Commerce, which lobbied to separate the work as its executive director , Kristen Johnson, does as an ex-facto leader of the Kendallville Heartland Experiment.
There have been conflicts there, as the Chamber is supposed to primarily serve its dues-paying members, while Experience the Heart of Kendallville promotes all downtown businesses, but only downtown businesses and events. city.
Although the two organizations share some overlap, the roles have become too intertwined and need to be separated.
Beyond that, the role of chamber manager and downtown manager is separate and distinct and more than one person is able to tackle each other anyway, Johnson said.
âThere are a lot of things we could do that we, in terms of capacity, can’t do right now,â Johnson said of the downtown area.
Experience the heart of Kendallville, consultant John Bry was hired as a part-time Main Street administrator while exploring a more permanent solution.
That research was given a boost when Kendallville was selected by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs for its brand new $ 2 million grant program, which requires having a Main Street director.
Johnson said the grant also requires the city to become a nationally accredited mainstreet, which not only takes a lot of work to get initially but also to maintain every year.
The redevelopment commission had chosen to wait and see what Kendallville had budgeted for supporting Main Street managers. The city’s 2022 budget, as approved, provided for annual support of $ 20,000 for this work.
“We added it to the budget not as a one-time deal,” said Mayor Suzanne Handshoe. âIf we have a commitment from RDC and it sounds serious, then we can look at the job description and who they report to. “
Johnson said the salary for a Main Street manager for a town the size of Kendallville would typically range between $ 40,000 and $ 50,000 a year, depending on the candidate.
Any extra over $ 40,000 could come from the $ 100,000 in matching funds the city is required to put in place as part of the PreservINg Main Street grant, Johnson said, but the new staff member would also be responsible for do more annual fundraising for Experience the Heart of Kendallville too.
It has not yet been decided whether the person will become an employee of the City of Kendallville or of Experience the Heart of Kendallville.
This is one area where the dual role Johnson fulfills for the House and Experience the Heart of Kendallville comes at a cost, as it’s split between trying to support both groups.
âThe Main Street manager will be responsible for raising more money than (the organization) is currently raising,â Johnson said.
Handshoe said a new person could work on organizing more events and promoting them, which would bring in more money and further support the role of the downtown organization.
The mayor mentioned that this year’s Art on Main project, Bee Boxes, reached a higher total at the end of season auction, with proceeds going to Experience the Heart of Kendallville. There is potential to develop something even bigger, similar to what Auburn does every year with its art projects and auctions, she said.
The revitalization of the downtown area is gathering momentum and the responsibility and attention necessary to maintain it has increased to justify its own dedicated person.
âWe’re starting to see what our potential is and the bar is there and I think we need to hit the bar,â Handshoe said.
Commission members asked how long their support would be needed, Barb Babcock, a non-voting member of the East Noble School Board, asked if the commission would support the work for a year, 10 years, forever?
New commission member Tara Streb suggested that the RDC commit to four years to begin with, then reassess that level thereafter. The four-year period was a deliberate choice, as the downtown TIF will set in 2025, when the commission would no longer capture the more than $ 100,000 in annual income from the downtown TIF.
Commission member Carla Lowe noted that business owners in other TIF areas of the city might object if the city spends money from their downtown taxes if the city no longer technically collects. on Main Street.
Board members enjoyed the four-year window and voted 3-0 to pledge $ 20,000 per year starting next year. Lowe and committee members Jim Jarrett and Loren Allen voted in favor.
Johnson and Streb both abstained in the vote due to a conflict of interest, as Johnsin is the defactor leader of Experience the Heart of Kendallville and Streb is the secretary of that group’s board.
In the other cases on Wednesday, the RDC:
â¢ Welcomed Streb to the committee. Streb, who works for Noble County Economic Development Corp. and Noble County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was appointed to replace Patrick Hess, who had to resign from the board because he had moved outside of Kendallville.
â¢ Approval of a Marketing Support Plan for New Businesses, which will offer a small cash incentive to new businesses setting up in the TIF zone to help them pay for advertising and other promotions for their business.
â¢ Heard an update from Handshoe on the progress of the Pocket Park across from City Hall, to which RDC has contributed $ 25,000. Much of the concrete work and landscaping is complete and the city is working hard to secure a large community Christmas tree for this winter. Final plantings will complete the park in the spring, but all physical upgrades are expected to be done by the end of this year.
â¢ Decided to establish an annual cap of $ 100,000 on matching 50/50 facade grants. RDC funds up to $ 15,000 per request, although few projects meet this individual project limit. The commission funded roughly $ 65,000 in front projects this year, the most ever, so council members felt the $ 100,000 cap was enough to fund enough work while protecting the council’s cash balance. .
â¢ Heard an update on next steps with the $ 2 million PreservINg Main Street grant. More than 40 building and business owners attended a House briefing on Monday and Johnson reported that 26 indicated at least an initial interest in applying for facade improvements. The city is only asking for a 15% match for the grant work and is hoping that building owners will seek dramatic improvements to their buildings.