At their March 17 meeting, council members discussed the plan put forth by staff that will take $50,000 and split it between two projects. The first would be to put $25,000 toward a "promotional vehicle" for the town that would update and replace Danville Life, a newspaper produced quarterly in conjunction with the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Economic Development & Special Events Coordinator Jill Bergman described the move as a way of creating a unified branding for the Town of Danville. "The whole goal is to communicate with one voice," she said.
Council members were on board with the first piece, and staff was expected to begin working with the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce to take bids to provide the new promotions venue.
The second portion of the plan is to break the remaining $25,000 into 10 mini-grants to be given to businesses and organizations to help promote events that would also be tied into the town. While the members of the council agreed that keeping residents coming into the downtown is a good thing, the issue generated some debate and discussion regarding how it would be handled.
Staff's recommendation was to move from the way they have been allocating business promotion grant funding to a stricter set of rules that would be aimed more at events that would have a direct promotional benefit to the town.
"This presents itself as a dramatic change," said Mayor Newell Arnerich. "Some of what we have funded in the past wouldn't be approved."
Town Manager Joe Calabrigo said that they weren't trying to drive funding away from events but just to more selectively target those that do receive the funds. "My recommendation is to see you target these funds more stringently," he explained.
Arnerich and other council members expressed concern over how this would affect events that rely heavily on the town for funding and what a change in how the grants are made would mean.
"There are certain events that happen that rely on Danville for funding. They get people downtown. Our goal for years was to get people downtown," he said.
After several minutes of discussion, council members directed staff to cap the funding for the new promotional vehicle at $25,000 and to approach the business promotion grant applications on a case-by-case basis.
Calabrigo said that the council decided to keep the process the same for this year, but to reapproach it at a later date.
"They'll take another look based on demand and see if they want to be more selective in how they give the grants out," he explained.