Through the years, the Vicksburg Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has completed some terrific projects to spruce up Main and Prairie streets, according to Skip Knowles, long-time chairman. He told the current committee at its meeting in February, that it was time for him to hand over the reins after 25 plus years and keep the momentum going.
To that end, the board of directors voted to hire Kathy Hoyle, owner of Prism, LLC, for six months as interim DDA director at a salary of $29,500, with the stipulation that she pay for herself through grant writing activities. Her charge is to come up with a strategic plan for downtown, set priorities, build consensus, build a marketing and promotion plan, devise a business retention plan and have the deliverables ready by the end of June. The committee didn’t feel it was ready to go out and actively recruit a full-time director until it cleared up the financial status of the DDA through further investigation they said.
This fast pace is much needed according to Clint Powell the new owner of The Vault and current member of the DDA. “Vicksburg has a cloud over it and we need to put it behind us. We need to focus on what we have going on now, don’t say we are still looking into it. Focus on growth, positively. People like the signature events going on,” he stated.
New members of the DDA that were appointed by the Village Council include: Powell, Ken Schippers, Todd Glenn, Bill Adams, Tanya DeLong who was elected chairperson at the meeting and Steve McCowen, vice-chair. Hold-over members are Bob Dornbos, Laura Howard, Didik Soekarmoen, Amy Miller who was elected treasurer.
The DDA began operations when it structured the deal to build the Marketplace at the corner of E. Prairie and Kalamazoo Avenue, according to Knowles. It was the first Brownfield authorized in Michigan. This launched the DDA , using tax capture funds, known as tax increment financing (TIF). This represents the amount of taxes collected after the TIF was originated with any increase in tax assessments after that date. Over the years, this has amounted to roughly $75,000 yearly, for the DDA to work with, particularly in the last five to ten years.
Other projects have included the building of the parking lot next to the Dollar General store across from the Marketplace, and the rehabilitation of the Mar-Jo’s restaurant property after the building suffered a debilitating fire. These are soon to be paid off and will allow the DDA to consider new efforts. The DDA also has a revolving loan fund of $30,000 at 2 percent interest for business owners to improve their properties façade, which has been underutilized according to Soekarmoen.
The next meeting is set for Wednesday, March 19, 8 a.m. at the Community Center. The public is encourage to attend.