The Downtown Pasco Development Authority is seeking to double the amount it gets from the city for revitalization efforts.
The authority’s request is $90,000 in 2015 and $120,000 in 2016, executive director Michael Goins said at Monday’s council meeting. The nonprofit has received $60,000 each of the last three years.
The downtown authority has made strides in everything the city has asked of it, said Rick White, Pasco’s community and economic development director.
The extra money is needed to help hire a full-time sales and marketing director, Goins said. The employee could help work on the authority’s website, which could expand to include ways to buy or pre-order merchandise from the Pasco Farmer’s Market and Pasco Specialty Kitchen, a site on South Fourth Avenue where numerous food producers operate.
The employee would also find sponsors for the annual Cinco de Mayo and Fiery Foods events and vendors for the Farmer’s Market and Specialty Kitchen, Goins said.
The authority raised $25,000 in sponsorships for last month’s Fiery Foods Festival, Goins said.
“I believe if we have someone who’s dedicated to focusing on those events, we can bring much more,” he said.
The authority also is looking to receive its Main Street accreditation, which means that donors to the downtown authority — including the city — get state business and occupation and utility tax credits.
“Ultimately, the goal is to become self-sustaining and lessen the funding from the city,” Goins said.
Expanding the downtown passport program from paper booklets to an iPhone and Android app is another goal, Goins said. The program offers rewards to people who shop or volunteer downtown.
Council members indicated support for the proposal, though some want more to be done to clean up downtown. Councilman Al Yenney said many buildings, including the Specialty Kitchen, need to “take a bath.”
The authority should also offer incentives like discounted rent to restaurants who move on from the Specialty Kitchen but stay downtown, Yenney said. Businesses such as the Butchers’ Grill and Sugar Rainbow Cakes in Kennewick have left Pasco in the past year after starting at the kitchen.
“Supporting that kitchen is a lot of money,” he said. “If they’re going to Kennewick, that’s money lost.”
Downtown business owners need to be more proactive in cleaning up the area, Councilman Saul Martinez said — but, overall, the downtown authority is doing a good job.
“We can’t stop now,” he said. “I’ve been there first hand to see all that you guys are doing.”