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The second-day story, with your help. Call Gazette reporter Adam Belz at (319) 398-8273 or e-mail him: adam.belz@gazcomm.com

Supervisors deny public-private recovery group

The Linn County Supervisors on Wednesday rejected a $50,000 funding request from the Economic Planning and Redevelopment Corporation (EPRC).

The vote was 4-0, with Linda Langston absent, away in Washington D.C.

The four-month-old public-private entity was created at the urging of some of the community’s key private-sector leaders to help in flood recovery, and its mission is to chase $452 million in federal funds set aside at a Department of Commerce regional office in Denver.

Doug Neumann, the EPRC executive director and president/CEO of the Downtown District, told the Cedar Rapids City Council in December that the money is targeted for communities recovering from natural disasters, and he felt Cedar Rapids had a good chance to pounce on some of the federal dollars quickly.

Neumann spoke to the supervisors last week. CRST President and CEO John Smith accompanied him. Supervisor Brent Oleson questioned Neumann for a few minutes about the group’s budget and its openness to supervisor participation.

Oleson wanted an itemized list of contributors to the group, and wanted assurances that any elected official would be able to attend any meeting. He received neither, he said.

“They can come back at any time to address the concerns that we have,” Oleson said after Wednesday’s meeting.

Neumann wouldn’t make any comments directly reacting to Wednesday’s vote by the supervisors.

“I don’t know what it means until I have some other discussions with some other people,” Neumann said Wednesday. “We’ve set out a very narrowly focused mission. We need support in order to do what we’re intended to do.”

The EPRC has identified at least two projects with potential for Department of Commerce funding:

1. Up to $100 million to remedy congestion and noise caused by freight-train traffic downtown — perhaps by building new railroad tracks and rail bridges.
2. Between $25 and $30 million to upgrade, expand or move the U.S. Cellular Center elsewhere.

In December, the City Council approved $50,000 in funding for the EPRC. More than 75 percent of the organization’s budget will come from the private sector, Neumann said.

“We’ve set a very lean budget to do a very important mission, and we asked for only enough money to meet that budget,” Neumann said Wednesday.

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Filed under: County Government, Flood, , , , ,

One Response

  1. […] Gazette CEO Chuck Peters has long been a proponent of the Economic Planning and Redevelopment Corporation as a solution. This awkwardly named group is a public-private partnership led by CRST President John Smith and Downtown District President Doug Neumann. The city approved $50,000 in funding for the group. The county declined to commit. […]

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