City Eyes Use Of ARPA Funding To Aid Businesses

Dave Messinger, Colecraft CEO, discusses his business during a meeting last week of the Jamestown City Council. Submitted Photo

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

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

The programs include $1.5 million for building/property infrastructure improvements; $1.5 million for new equipment and machine upgrades; $750,000 for internet technology improvements; and $500,000 for marketing and branding campaigns.

Surdyk said these programs total $4.25 million, with $5.75 million still available to be used for more projects. She said as the programs start, city officials need to be flexible about how much money is allocated for each program because some programs might be more popular than others, and might eventually need additional funding.

Kimberly Ecklund, At-Large councilwoman, said she is concerned about the monetary numbers for each of the programs. As a senior product data manager/costing analyst for Bush Industries, she said $1.5 million for new machinery won’t be able to help several city manufacturers. She also said $750,000 for expensive software programs also won’t last long.

“I think we might be shooting ourselves in the foot because we are only helping one company or two companies or whatever, and it’s not what is intended with ARPA funding,” she said. “So I do have some concerns. I know the cost of new equipment. I know the cost of new software. New technology is not cheap, so I guess, I’m putting out there, I’m a little concerned with the funding for it.”

Surdyk said, if that is the case, then the money might just go to help a business fund a percentage of the costs of a new machine instead of purchasing the whole item.

Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist also said this is just a draft proposal for how to spend ARPA economic development funding, and the council is encouraged to review the plan and to ask questions to assist in creating a quality program.


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

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


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