flsBusinesses in light railwork areawil get aidBy Art Thomason                                way to soften the blow," but...
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NEDCO in the Mesa News

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Businesses in light rail work area will get aid

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NEDCO in the Mesa News

  1. 1. flsBusinesses in light railwork areawil get aidBy Art Thomason way to soften the blow," but wondered if itThe Republic I azcentral.com would be enough to reimburse businesses for the financial hardships. Mesa is planning to provide finanliat Benelli said that she and other creatorsaid and other assistance to businesses dis- ofthe program would evaluate the aid be-rupted by construction that begins next fore returning to the council this fall withyear for the 3.1-mile extension of light a final draft. She said they proposed fund-rail. ing it with utility revenue because 70 pet City executives and staff are still cent of businesses along the light-railsmoothing details, but about 175 busi- route are within the citys electric servicenesses along Main Street, from the Syca- area.more Street station in west Mesa to Mesa Under the current plan, assistanceDrive, would be eligible for up to $2,500 in would cap at $2,500 annually per cus-annual deductions from their utility bills, tomer during construction and would beaccording to the concept unveiled Thurs- applied directly to the business monthlyday during a City Council study session. bill for electricity. The approximately $200 million light- Benelli said Main Street businesses be-rail line will require about 40land acquisi- tween Sycamore and Alma School Roadtions to accommodate right of way, tracks, are not eligible for financial assistancestations and other infrastructure. Most because they are outside the city utilitywould be for only small slivers of land. area, but they qualify for other assistance . Urban planners and some business such as accounting, financial reporting,owners expect that the project, when marketing and sociai media, informationcompleted, will energize Main Street and technology, and human resources.businesses by pouring hundreds of light- Smith and City Manager Chris Bradyrail commuters a week on the doorsteps of said the program doesnt appear to poseshops, restaurants and service outlets. legal problems because the asiistance The business-relief program, which would come from profits generated by thehas received verbal support from City city-owned electric utilityCouncil members, evolved after months taining enterprise - a self-sus- and would be based -of brainstorming sessions among city eco- on specific losses incurred by the businomic development and electric utility nesses.executives and Terry Benelli, executive Frank McRae, director of the citys En- director of the Neighborhood Economic ergy Resources Department, said aboutDevelopment Corporation, to find a way $t0 million a year from the utilitys $34to help small businesses bridge setbacks million in gross revenue is transferred to generated by light-rail construction over Mesas general fund.the nextfive years. NEDCO is anon-profit Brady said the programs final draftthat provides financing for smallbusiness would have to remain flexible to accom- and community development projects. modate a variety of businesses in terms of The program is part of a public-private their size, number of employees andpartnership that will be administered by losses incurred from construction.NEDCO to qualifying businesses. Benelli said that she and the economic NEDCO will also contract with consult- development office are marketing the ants to provide technical assistance to af- program through visits to businesses and fected businesses. social media such as Facebook. The citys economic development of- "Social media seems to be everybodys fice and Valley Metro, which oversees the hot button," she said. regional transit system, will align the pro- "Every summer expenses for these gram with other business assistance en- businesses go up and revenue declines," terprises. she said. "Its essential that the city mini- Mayor Scott Smith called it "a creative mize that impact." To subscribe to The Arizona Repwblic cal|602.444.1000

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