IEDC stakeholders consider downtown progress

Stakeholders consider downtown progress

Jill Schramm/MDN Roger Reich with the Downtown Business & Professional Association speaks to other members of the IEDC Stakeholders Group Monday. At left are Lyndsay Ulrickson with Souris Basin Planning Council and Megan Laudenschlager with Strengthen ND.

The vitality of downtown Minot continues to be a focus of a stakeholders group that met Monday to review its progress.

Downtown surveys, a gathering space and One Brand marketing were among topics of the International Economic Development Council Interagency Stakeholders Group at its quarterly meeting.

A committee will be considering proposals submitted by several companies from around the country, including three from North Dakota, to develop a One Brand marketing strategy. The goal is to select a firm by July 1.

The Minot City Council has approved spending up to $300,000 from the MAGIC Fund to hire a marketing firm to work with Visit Minot, Minot Area Chamber of Commerce and Minot Area Development Corp.

Souris Basin Planning Council and Strengthen ND coordinated surveys of downtown merchants and community members on their thoughts about downtown. The community survey had nearly 1,000 respondents, who listed more food options and aesthetics among their key desires.

Members of the stakeholders group were concerned the merchants survey drew only 36 respondents. Those who responded indicated interest in snow removal, arts and marketing strategies and food trucks.

City council member Paul Pitner said he would like to see more merchant engagement if the city is to make downtown investments. Conversations also are occurring regarding a potential Business Improvement District, which stakeholders agreed needs to come only at the recommendation of property owners within the district. Businesses within a district pay a tax to fund projects within that district.

Mayor Shaun Sipma said he is setting up a new committee to look at Trinity Health properties and potential uses once Trinity relocates.

City Manager Tom Barry reported negotiations continue for property purchases for the proposed downtown gathering space.

“There are some that have tentatively reached agreement with the city and others that are very far apart with the city,” he said. “We will not sign any purchase or sale agreements until we get all the properties to make this move forward.”

Stakeholders also acknowledged progress already made downtown in recent years. Council member Josh Wolsky said the downtown is at 70% to 80% of the goal.

“The tedious 20% is left,” he said. “We are right on the cusp of that finishing work.”