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Regional Council plans to apply for two grants

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Regional Council plans to apply for two grants
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

The South Central Dakota Regional Council unanimously voted Wednesday to apply for two grants that, if awarded, would assist small manufacturing businesses and hire building inspectors.

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One grant is through the Bush Foundation’s Innovation program and would allow the council to establish a regional building inspections department to monitor construction in the nine counties the SCDRC serves: Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells.

Deb Kantrud, executive director of the council, said the lack of building inspection services in the nine counties is a concern that has risen with the region’s growth.

“We’re trying to figure out how to meet this need and how to address it,” Kantrud said. “What we’re going to do is try to do some research and try to implement something so that we can get somebody of service out to the people. This grant will give us the tools to do it and then come up with a fee structure that will make it sustainable.”

Bruce Hagen, who works on state building codes for the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Division of Community Service, was a guest speaker at the meeting and said 18 percent of jurisdictions in the state have not adopted the state building code, and the ones that have often don’t have inspectors to enforce it. There is no requirement under the state Century Code requiring all jurisdictions to adopt the state’s code, but those that do are required to enforce it.

“One of the things that’s kind of frustrating at the state level is we don’t have any inspection enforcement,” Hagen said. “There’s really no teeth in the law … What we’d like to see in this project you folks are working on is to get people out there to handle that in these places that don’t have full-time inspectors.”

Hagen said even if a jurisdiction has not adopted a code, the electrical and plumbing inspections are still done by the state, and banks and insurance companies may do inspections of their own. Kantrud said the grant ranges from $10,000 to $200,000 with no cost share, but she needed to do more research to find out how much she would seek. The application period opened Tuesday and closes in March with phone interviews in April and May and grants awarded in August.

One problem the board has in adding an inspection department is a lack of space. The council has been looking at options for moving into another building or remodeling. The current building is shared among three entities with the Jamestown/ Stutsman Development Corp. owning 50 percent, the SCDRC owning 32 percent and the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce owning the remaining 18 percent.

“At this point we’d like to get the cost of everything, where we’re at, before we take a look at and come up with some different options then we’d have a total budget for you,” Kantrud said.

The other grant the SCDRC voted to apply for was the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) which would expand on the assistance that was provided through the Rural Business Opportunity Grant (RBOG) in 2012 and 2013. The RBOG was used to assist 19 manufacturing business in the region.

“It’s critical we keep our manufacturing outlets strong here,” Kantrud said.

The grant will be $35,000 to $40,000 with a local cost share supported by the Small Business Development Center. The funds would be used to hire business consultant Dave Halvorson, pay contractors for marketing and specialized education, as well as clerical support and travel and meeting costs incurred by the council while administering the grant.

The RBEG is to be used on businesses with 50 employees or less or that have less than $1 million in gross annual revenue. It will be awarded in September and last for a one-year term, ending in September 2015.

The council also unanimously voted to add Barnes County Commissioner Phil Leitner to the executive board. Leitner takes the seat vacated by Griggs County Commissioner Ron Halvorson, who lost a recall election last fall.

The council also changed its bylaws to allow the addition of an extra seat on the board to allow representatives from both the University of Jamestown and Valley City State University to serve on the board. The board had only offered one seat for a board member involved in higher education, and that seat is currently vacant. The council made a change that allows every regular board member to select his or her own alternate in the event that member cannot attend a meeting. Previous alternates had to be selected by the board.

Sun reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at dluessen@jamestownsun.com

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