11/13/13 — Fremont panel forwards list to board

View Archive

Fremont panel forwards list to board

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on November 13, 2013 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- The Fremont Small Town Economic Prosperity grant committee voted Tuesday night to forward its projects proposal to the Town Board of Aldermen.

The town board will review the proposals for how the committee plans to spend the $100,000 in STEP money that is aimed at boosting economic development in the area.

The deadline to present the proposed projects to the state Department of Commerce for final approval is Dec. 31.

Much of the discussion Tuesday night was devoted to the number of consultants currently planned for the projects.

Mayor W. Darron Flowers said that he would like to see the different consultants combined into fewer positions.

STEP Program Coordinator Oliver Bass suggested hiring the project coordinator position first to help the town search for candidates that could handle multiple projects.

Currently a project coordinator, marketing consultant, Streetscape planner, website designer, graphic designer and a town park planner are proposed to be involved in STEP-funded projects.

Committee member Mary Lee Flowers said that not enough merchant input was involved in the process, but that it was not due to a lack of trying.

"We asked the merchants to come, and we had a few on and off," Mayor Flowers said.

Current projects planned are expected to cost $100,500.

The bulk of the funds are going to a part-time project coordinator for $25,000, a $15,000 branding study for the town and another $15,000 for Main Street Streetscape.

The town has an extra $18,000 to use for projects left over from its $25,000 planning budget.

The NC Rural Center awarded Fremont the grant to fund projects aimed at revitalizing the town economically and to create jobs.

It is unclear how many jobs would be created directly by the projects but the committee hopes to create a more business friendly environment to pull in more jobs.

Once the projects are approved, the town will receive seed money to fund the projects which must be used within 18 months.

Earlier this year, questions were raised about the security of the $100,000 following an investigation into the Rural Center's use of funds and its programs being shifted to the state Department of Commerce. But town officials have been assured Fremont will still get the money.