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Grant boosts efforts to attract new business

The Boulder City Economic Vitality Commission received an $85,000 shot in the arm, which it will use in its efforts to attract businesses to Boulder City.

The funding came in the form of a Boulder City Redevelopment Agency grant, awarded Jan. 14 at its regular meeting. The City Council, which serves as the redevelopment board, is scheduled to approve the funding at its Jan. 28 meeting.

The funding is divided into $28,000 for the nonprofit, volunteer commission’s operations, and $57,000 for the commission to hire an economic development consulting firm, said Brok Armantrout, Boulder City’s community development director.

Bender &Associates will assist with the commission’s goal of attracting new businesses to Boulder City, Armantrout said.

The city hopes to attract warehouses and travel centers to a new highway commercial district at the future Interstate 11/U.S. Highway 95 intersection. Additionally, the city aims to attract the drone industry, capitalizing on it being a planned testing area for the Federal Aviation Administration’s integration of nonmilitary drones into the national airspace.

“We want to make sure we get the right type of drone industry,” Armantrout said. “We don’t want Reapers.”

Last month, 775 acres near the intersection and 242 acres near the airport were added to the city’s 2014 Land Management Plan, identifying them for possible development.

Commission Director and Boulder City Chamber of Commerce CEO Jill Rowland-Lagan said it is important that the city take a proactive approach to development.

“We need to be looking to make sure we control that industry and we don’t let it control us,” she said.

Bender &Associates also will work to keep existing businesses in Boulder City by continuing a series of one-on-one meetings, which the commission began last year, Rowland-Lagan said.

The meetings involved commission and city representatives visiting local businesses with four basic questions: Does the business have any concerns? Does it plan to expand? Does it have any employee issues? Does it have any questions of the panel?

“It allowed the businesses to have access to people at City Hall, and allowed the Economic Development Agency to learn about the businesses and assist in any way they could,” Rowland-Lagan said.

Bender &Associates President Larry Bender is an economic development specialist who has consulted for Boulder City and worked as redevelopment manager for North Las Vegas.

“I’m very familiar with the fact that Boulder City is a very unique community,” Bender told the board. He said he would reserve further comment until after the council approves the funding.

A two-person team has agreed to work 80 hours per month, at a monthly rate of $4,583.33 plus expenses, according to the grant application. The firm’s contract begins in March, Rowland-Lagan said.

The commission’s $28,000 will be used for personnel expenses, such as secretarial and accounting requirements, travel, marketing, website development and maintenance, and training, Rowland-Lagan said.

Steps to form the commission began in 2009, with the purpose of assisting economic development efforts, which does not have anyone fully dedicated to the task, Rowland-Lagan said.

“A lot of it was falling on the community development director,” Rowland-Lagan said. “It was so taxing to that office that we were looking to assist on a volunteer basis.”

The commission was not incorporated until 2012, when it received a $27,000 RDA grant that funded its operations through last year, Rowland-Lagan said.

Commission activities have included creating a brochure about doing business in Boulder City, training and certifications for board members, attending trade shows and the early development of a website, Rowland-Lagan said.

With last year’s announcement of the I-11 construction time line and the commission becoming involved with a new state economic development agency, the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, Rowland-Lagan said the commission needed to take its work “to the next level.”

“All of these things were kind of presenting themselves and making us realize, as volunteers, we weren’t able to be as effective and able to put as much time into what really has to take place,” Rowland-Lagan said.

The commission’s board has been comprised of professionals from the Chamber of Commerce, the city and local business community. Members’ terms expired this month and new board members are to be named in February.

A chamber representative, the community development director, city manager and a councilperson have permanent seats, Rowland-Lagan said.

Mayor Roger Tobler said it’s important the council stay involved.

“I don’t want to see us kind of move to the side as the thing moves on,” he said. “We are in touch with the residents and I think we understand, for the most part, that threshold of what types of developments come to town, and what the city can really stomach.”

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