John Day City Manager Nick Green and Mayor Ron Lundbom

John Day City Manager Nick Green and Mayor Ron Lundbom during a city council in October 2019.

On Jan. 14, the John Day City Council discussed its interest in seeking assistance from the Economic Development Administration, which could provide up to $20 million in funding for various projects in the Innovation Gateway.

During a virtual city meeting April 14, the city shared the scope of the projects and priorities that will be submitted for the application. This process went through stakeholders and city council members who voiced their input on priorities for the application.

They also worked together to determine which projects to include in the scope of the application for the Economic Adjustment Assistance program. John Day City Manager Nick Green said the EDA’s EAA program provides funds for communities under a federal disaster declaration.

Because the floods were declared a federal disaster and because the city has a Comprehensive Economic Diversification Strategy approved and funded by the EDA, the city can apply for economic assistance and recovery, Green said.

The scope of the EDA proposal consists of eight different projects that will be submitted. The eight projects are: the broadband expansion and network modernization; workforce housing; Innovation Gateway industrial site and grid modernization; street and parking improvements to make the site accessible; hotel and event center/distillery; flood mitigation and environmental restoration; community pavilion and the greenhouse learning center.

The city council also voted and approved the purchase and sale agreement of 14 acres near the Innovation Gateway site and the right of way from Iron Triangle, which will be subject to final review and approval by the city’s attorney. This was done so industrial land development could be included in the scope of the EDA application.

The council approved the purchase of the property for $495,000 along with closing costs and the land acquisition and right-of-way dedication agreements, which were $205,000.

The land planned to be purchased is located between the U.S. Forest Service office building and Valley View Assisted Living. The right of way is between Patterson Bridge Road and Valley View Drive to create the new Government Entry Road and complete the Seventh Street Extension.

The meeting agenda states that to complete the proposed land acquisitions and development clean up, the city will need to approve a supplemental budget for Water Fund expenditures that increases capital outlay for this project to $725,000. Following a notice in the Blue Mountain Eagle, the supplemental budget could be approved at the May 12 city council meeting.

The plan is to pay the cost with $595,000 in loan proceeds, $38,930 in grant proceeds from Brownfield Redevelopment Fund grants and $91,070 transferred from the 2020 fiscal year contingency. Green added that the city’s financing agreement for the property purchase also includes $60,000 as a forgivable loan upon completion of any environmental remediation needed at the site.

John Day also received another Brownfield Redevelopment Fund grant from Business Oregon for $59,986 to do a wetland delineation and site characterization for the Oregon Pine property, according to Green.

“The grants we received will allow us to make this site certified shovel-ready through the Oregon Business Development Department within the next 12 months,” Green said. “As soon as we receive the certification, our goal is to sell all 12 lots at fair market value to allow for business expansion.”

Now that the application has been submitted, if the city is successful in funding, Green said the city will see economic gains such as creating new jobs and increasing food security by doubling production at the greenhouse.

Also, the 12 lots have been rezoned to allow for mixed use, commercial and light industrial, according to Green, with no requirements for job creation. He added that this site is eligible to participate in the enterprise zone tax credits available in John Day if new jobs are created as a result of business expansion in this area.

The goal is to receive $20 million in EDA funding, Green said. The grant funding would require a 20% match, and while local and state funding can be used for the match, federal funds cannot be used, Green said.

Reporter

Rudy Diaz is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. Contact him at rudy@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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