The Greensboro City Council, after an acrimonious discussion, voted to allocate $250,000 in economic development funds to assist an estimated 50 businesses repair the damage from the vandalism and looting on Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31.
The City Council had agreed to allocate $250,000 for repairing the damage to businesses at a previous meeting and this was simply the formal affirmation of that vote.
The city staff’s plan – to have Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) do all the work determining which businesses are eligible and how much to award, up to a maximum of $3,000 – makes sense because the vast majority of the businesses damaged are downtown. It appeared to be an item that wouldn’t be discussed at all in the midst of a long agenda.
But some councilmembers have a lot of hostility toward DGI. So with the mention that the allocation would be turned over to DGI for distribution, the swords came out.
Councilmember Sharon Hightower said, “Why is DGI the one that is going to be the one over the money? I’m a little concerned about that.”
Councilmember Michelle Kennedy said that the payments would be capped at $3,000 but, with a 10 percent administrative fee, DGI would be receiving eight times what any damaged business received.
DGI Director of Operations Sarah Healy said that the DGI board had voted to allocate $25,000 to the cost of the program but, when she was first asked, she didn’t say that would cover all the administrative costs, which caused a lot of discussion.
Healy later said she was told that the $25,000 would cover all DGI’s administrative costs and the full $250,000 would go to help damaged businesses.
But that didn’t stop the discussion.
Councilmember Justin Outling said that he was disappointed in city staff for not giving the City Council a more detailed program.
Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I don’t remember this council digging down so deep on administrative fees for other nonprofits, whether it is the IRC or whether it is One Step Further.”
The Interactive Resource Center (IRC) is run by Kennedy and One Step Further is run by Councilmember Yvonne Johnson; both receive considerable allocations from the city.
Kennedy said that many nonprofits that worked on tornado recovery didn’t take an administrative fee and that the IRC didn’t charge the city an administrative fee.
Councilmember Goldie Wells said, “Sometimes I think we have a little prejudice against DGI.”
Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “When the downtown comes up and it comes to funding, we give them a hard time. I think DGI has been a good steward for their funds.”
She added, “At some point we’re going to have to step up and help some of these business owners get back to business.”
She noted that the downtown businesses had been closed because of COVID-19 and then, just when they were reopening, they were hit with this damage.
Hightower said, “What happens when the next protest comes, because it’s coming.” She added, “Are we going to continue to do this repeatedly?”
The motion to have DGI handle the distribution of $250,000 to businesses damaged on May 30 and May 31 passed on an 8-1 vote with Hightower voting no.
Another whole lot of nothing. $250,000; $25,000; $3,000, 10%? These are arbitrary numbers, just like six feet. Someone thot that it sounds right, so let’s go with that.
No matter where a business sets up shop, they assume all their own risk at their expense, not the taxpayer’s. So why does the city feel that they have to prop up a downtown business, and if so, ignore ALL the other businesses in the city? I have novel suggestions. Reduce the property tax rate. Reduce the cost of a business license. Personally, having toured downtown Elm St., I don’t see why any business would want to pour any money in the wasteland of Elm St. Cut your losses and get out of there.
Can the Coop.
If they are capping at $3000 and 50 businesses were damaged that is $150,000
$25,000 to DGI is too much and where is the rest going
That’s another $75,000 unaccounted for
Why are they allocating that much and then capping at $3000.
I would like to know how City Council members can run non-profits which are being supported by taxpayers. Seems like a conflict.
If you are elected to city council, you should not be able to vote on any action related to your non-profit. The problem is, many council members are part of non-profits so they all have a hand in the City’s money in some fashion, and they know if they vote against a non-profit, the other council members will vote against their claim for money for their own non-profit. Would be nice if we had council members who did not serve on the boards of the non-profits.
An interesting thing with Guilford County government is for years Alma Adams has had a hat museum and the county allocated around $50,000 for it in their budget. They didn’t pay Alma, but didn’t charge her rent for the facility which she would have been required to pay the county for rent. See how this works?
Hightower is right. If I were a business owner down there, I’d leave. There will be more looting. Take it to the bank.
I find a reasonable explanation to be that Council member Kennedy is so hard on DGI because they give a voice to businesses and are brave enough to state that panhandlers keep people away from downtown.
Perhaps your people ought to stop looting and rioting, and destoying other people’s property and businesses.