JSDC approves $5,000 grant to FARRMSThe Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board Monday unanimously approved a grant of $5,000 to FARRMS, the education arm of International Certification Services in Medina.
The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board Monday unanimously approved a grant of $5,000 to FARRMS, the education arm of International Certification Services in Medina.
The grant, which will come from Stutsman County funds, will offset the expense of hiring a three-quarter-time employee. Questioned on whether JSDC would be funding $5,000 each year for the employee, JSDC CEO Connie Ova said this is a one-time grant. The person hired will work on development of a fundraising campaign for FARRMS, part of which will help fund the position in future years.
“The grant is more of a show of support for FARRMS when they’re soliciting other organizations,” she said.
The new employee will also devise education programs which target youth, ages 10-18.
JSDC Board member Alex Schweitzer said this was a minimal investment in continuing economic development in rural Stutsman County. ICS-FARRMS employs about 20 people. FARRMS provides education on diversifying the local economy through sustainable agriculture and micro-businesses, such as community gardens and farmers markets.
“ICS is good for small farmers and economic development in Medina,” Schweitzer said.
Ova said ICS has been in business for about 30 years. Its primary work is verifying farm land for organic production. As well as organic vegetable farming, ICS-FARRMS supports organic greenhouse development.
In a letter explaining the request for JSDC support, FARRMS board treasurer Sharon Clancy said FARRMS is working to improve the region’s entrepreneurial climate and promote the state’s local foods initiative.
JSDC Board member Mark Klose wondered if the board would be setting a precedent in funding a part-time job. Schweitzer said JSDC is in the business of funding retention and creation of jobs.
“ICS provides good jobs in rural Stutsman County,” Schweitzer said.
Ova said ICS has been faithfully repaying a $25,000 JSDC loan since the construction of a new facility in Medina. She added JSDC was the sponsoring agency for ICS to get a USDA loan and the JSDC loan was part of the package.
The board unanimously approved the $5,000 grant. It will now go to the City Council and Stutsman County Commission for final approval.
The JSDC Board also endorsed the Recovery Zone Facility Bonds Policy, which allocated federal funds totaling more than $10 million for Stutsman County. Lindsey Larson, JSDC staff member, explained the bonds are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. They’ve been issued to spur the economy, create new jobs, encourage private investment and help businesses grow.
Stutsman County Chief Operating Officer Noel Johnson requested the JSDC Board review and endorse the draft policy. Individuals get information and begin the RZFB process at the county. Armed with information, the business or individual goes, for example, to a bank for a loan. JSDC Board member Brion Bittner said the loan is at a lower interest rate. Private investment is also possible. The investor receives a tax credit. The County Commission will sell the bonds.
“The county sells the bonds but has no liability,” said City Administrator Jeff Fuchs.
The RZF bonds are also available to municipalities. Fuchs was asked if the bonds could be used for city infrastructure. He said they could.
“But because of our bond rating we can get bonds cheaper (than RZF) for the sewers,” he said.
JSDC Board member Joan Morris asked what JSDC’s involvement in this is.
“As a referral source,” Schweitzer said.
Ova said RZF bonds are available and “we’d like to use them to benefit the community.”
In other business, the JSDC Board accepted Ken Schulz’s resignation from the board’s executive committee. He’ll remain on the board, but said the executive committee takes too much of his time.
JSDC Board member Dick Geigle nominated Mayor Katie Andersen to replace Schulz. Andersen was recently appointed to the JSDC Board. The vote was unanimous to place her on the executive committee.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org