Commission approves yogurt shop loan fundsThe Stutsman County Commission unanimously approved a Flex Pace interest buy down loan for a planned frozen yogurt operation during its regular meeting Tuesday. The interest buy down reduces loan payments for a planned Cherry Berry frozen yogurt operation owned by Kal Patel.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Stutsman County Commission unanimously approved a Flex Pace interest buy down loan for a planned frozen yogurt operation during its regular meeting Tuesday. The interest buy down reduces loan payments for a planned Cherry Berry frozen yogurt operation owned by Kal Patel.
The Flex Pace interest buy down includes a loan of up to $54,000 that triggers a grant of up to $100,000 from the Bank of North Dakota. The money is used to reduce the interest cost on a loan by up to 5 percent. The project had been approved by the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. Board of Directors on July 9. It requires the approval of the JSDC, Stutsman County Commission and Jamestown City Council to take effect.
Commissioners questioned the wages that would be paid by jobs created at the store.
“Is it justifiable to create more minimum wage jobs in Jamestown?” asked David Schwartz, county commissioner.
The application for the Flex Pace interest buy down listed the creation of three to four jobs with hourly wages between $8 and $8.50 per hour. Patel spoke during the meeting about how well Cherry Berry franchises were doing in other North Dakota cities.
“If there is that much prospect you should be paying more,” said Dale Marks, county commissioner.
Clarice Liechty, former Jamestown mayor and local businesswoman, also questioned the JSDC participation in the project.
“There is such low interest rates to borrow money now,” she said. “I don’t know why we need tax money investment in this.”
Liechty also questioned whether tax money should be used to reduce the expenses of a new business that will compete with current operations.
“What are you saying to people who have invested in Jamestown for years? ‘We’re just going to take your money and give it to competitors,’” she said.
Connie Ova, CEO of the JSDC, said the Flex Pace interest buy down program is available to any creditworthy business in town. She also said the program had been reviewed by attorneys and was legal.
“Legally it may be correct,” Liechty said. “Whether it is proper is determined by commissions, councils and voters. Are we going to put a sign out that says we have such a poor image of ourselves we’ll give you money to come here?”
Patel commented that Jamestown needs to offer incentives to investors.
“Jamestown needs incentives because it is a small community,” he said. “Money can grow faster in other communities.”
After about a half hour of debate, the commission passed the issue unanimously.
In other business, the commissioners approved redesigning two grade raises for slower speed.
Grade raises on County Road 38 and County Road 30 will be designed for a 40 mph speed limit. This reduces the cost of the two grade raises by about $520,000 with the Stutsman County share of the costs cut by about $105,000. Engineer estimates now put the two grade raises at about $850,000 total.
The lower speeds require a 7-foot wide clear zone rather than a 12-foot wide zone required for a 55 mph roadway, said Steve Thompson, project engineer for Interstate Engineers.
The clear zone is defined as the shoulder and slope area that is clear of obstructions in case a vehicle leaves the roadway.
The commission also rejected three requests from RTS Shearing for financial relief on a project they had done for the county in St. Paul Township.
RTS Shearing had asked for a waiver of the liquidated damages for the late completion of the project, a waiver of a deduction in the contract payment for using a different grade of gravel than specified and a waiver of a requirement by the engineers they add more rock rip rap to the roadway.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com