DGDC sets budget for 2013
By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 25, 2013 1:46 PM
The Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. board of directors approved the nonprofit portion of its budget Wednesday, while also expressing its support for one of the district's newest businesses through the approval of an economic incentive grant.
The nonprofit budget, which is only a portion of the funds that go to support downtown efforts, is expected to be about $100,000, and DGDC officials are hopeful that revenues will exceed expenditures.
DGDC Director Julie Metz explained that the revenue generated by many of the downtown events such as the Jazz on George and the Center Street Jams is weather dependent, so they try to keep a little flexibility built in.
However, she also explained that what really keeps the DGDC operating are its sponsorships, which account for more than half of the organization's revenues. The good news for 2013-14, she said, is that those sponsorship funds are actually running slightly ahead of projections right now with several donors pending.
Having such a high level of support from the community, Ms. Metz said, is what allows the DGDC to offer the events like Jazz on George and the Center Street Jams for free. Revenue from those largely comes from beverage sales.
"Most of our events, except for the annual dinner, we don't charge for," she said.
Other revenue sources include the sale of items such as calendars, ornaments and T-shirts, as well as grants and membership dues.
This year, the DGDC also will host a building fundraiser event at 7 p.m. on May 4 at the Paramount Theatre -- a Doc Watson Tribute, featuring David Holt.
The funds from that event will go to help pay down the $242,000 loan the organization secured from BB&T to help pay for the acquisition and renovation of its new home at 219 N. John St., which will host an open house on April 25 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Ms. Metz explained that those fundraising efforts are particularly important for the organization as it has not received any funding from the city for its new facility.
"The city has not put one dime into the building project. As far as the purchase and rehabilitation of the building, this has been a completely nonprofit effort," she said. "Plus we are a property tax paying nonprofit business."
Until now, the DGDC had been staying rent-free in a building owned by Wayne County.
Overall, though, Ms. Metz said, the budget is very similar to what it's been in recent years.
"It looks good. It's stable. We are probably more fiscally secure in the last four to five years than we've ever been," she said.
Salaries and benefits for the organization's three full time employees are paid for out of the city's general fund and total approximately $200,000 annually.
The biggest change this year will be in the use of the city's municipal service district funds -- a special tax levied on the businesses within the historic district that for 2012-13, was budgeted at $72,000.
In previous years, Ms. Metz explained, a portion of those funds were used to support such efforts as the ice cream social and pet parade and the teddy bear picnic. Now, with the City Council asking the DGDC to focus more on its economic development efforts, many of those events have been farmed out to various nonprofits.
Instead, the DGDC will focus more on efforts such as its economic and facade improvement grants -- for the current budget year, those efforts have accounted for about $40,000 so far -- as well as its Shop the Block and bar crawl events.
"Those really get people into the businesses," Ms. Metz said.
The rest of the municipal service district funds will go toward beautification and downtown cleanup efforts, as well as some marketing and promotion.
The benefit of the economic incentive funds was on display on Wednesday as the board of directors voted to give Matchbox, a new downtown restaurant, a $4,800 grant.
Matchbox, which is owned by Stephen Rhodes and Andy Mitchell, is expected to open in May in the former Lotus 1899 location -- 104 and 106 N. John St. Ms. Metz described the new restaurant as featuring an oyster bar, wood-fired pizza and gourmet burgers.
"It'll be a trendy little place. It's exactly the kind of business we want downtown -- something that will attract a younger crowd and will continue to add to the attraction of John Street," Ms. Metz said. "It also brings in young investors to downtown and adds a kind of vibrancy and sustainability to downtown."
The two men, who also own Brown Bag Cafe in the Brick Village on Patetown Road, also are expected to open a Brown Bag Cafe Express next door, at 104 N. John St., later this summer.
The grant, Ms. Metz explained, is awarded after a lengthy application process that looks at business plans, and involves efforts by members of the board's economic restructuring committee to help owners make improvements.
Once approved, the grant is awarded in $400 increments every month for 12 months -- but only after the business has been open for six months. If the business closes before those 18 months are up, then the remainder of the funds are not awarded, though there is no requirement for funds received to be paid back.
And while there are no stipulations on how the money is used, Ms. Metz said the businesses are encouraged to use the funds for marketing -- something that many small business owners neglect to budget enough for, especially in their first year.
"It's a small amount, but it's really just a little incentive to help them with overhead through that first year," she said.