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Downtown Springdale group seeks more money

by Laurinda Joenks | March 2, 2021 at 8:16 a.m.
City of Springdale City Hall Administration building entrance. NWA Democrat-Gazette/FILE PHOTO

SPRINGDALE — Jill Dabbs, executive director of the Downtown Springdale Alliance, on Monday asked the City Council increase by 100% the amount of the city’s contract with the Alliance.

The city pays the Alliance $50,000 for its work to promote and revitalize the city’s downtown area, Dabbs said. She asked the council to increase that amount by another $50,000, bringing the Alliance a yearly total of $100,000.

Council members, working as a Committee of the Whole, decided to put off discussion until the next meeting March 15. Council member Amelia Williams asked for time to review the proposed new contract.

Dabbs said when the alliance was formed five years ago, it had only one staff member and put on one event a year. Dabbs was appointed executive director two years ago.

Today’s alliance has two full-time and one part-time employee. Dabbs said the increase in the contract would help pay for another employee to be present during events as a point of contact.

“We need to better expand our staff, so we can better manage what we’re doing,” Dabbs said.

The alliance earns part of its $300,000 operating budget

from ticket sales and sponsorships. “But not all of our events are ‘for profit,’” Dabbs said. “Some are community outreach — like the bonfire which attracted 1,000 people.”

The bonfire was planned for part of the Ozarktober festival, but was canceled with the restrictions in place because of the covid-19. Dabbs said she was referring to the 2019 event.

Dabbs said the Walton Family Foundation and the Tyson Foods Foundation also provided the alliance with “seed money” five years ago, and the alliance has used most of that money.

She couldn’t state the amount of seed money without referring to alliance records, noting she wasn’t here when the alliance was started.

“They wanted us to become self-sustaining and grow our relationships and partnerships, and prove what we could do for the city,” Dabbs said.

The alliance also will ask those foundations to increase their contributions, she said.

The alliance now is involved in events nine months of the year, Dabbs said.

Last year, the alliance presented the Street Dinner, Christmas on the Creek, Ozarktober, Live @ Turnbow — and many virtual events, Dabbs said as she presented the group’s annual report.

“And we help with other important downtown events that support our mission of providing vibrant and safe events,” Dabbs said.

The alliance also manages the rentals of Shiloh Square and Turnbow Park, contacting city departments to arrange security, close Emma Avenue and collect the trash, Dabbs noted.

Other responsibilities for the alliance include managing he Outdoor Dining District, creating and maintaining the website as a online gateway to the city, serving as a liaison for economic development in the downtown district and administrating large grants awarded to the city, she said.

Dabbs noted 10,000 drinks served in the outdoor dining district, eight murals planned for downtown buildings and 28 new businesses or expansions in the district.

The city also contracts with the Springdale Chamber of Commerce to promote business development and economic growth. The city in February increased the yearly payment from $200,000 to $225,000 at the request of chamber officials. Bill Rogers, president of the chamber, said it was the first increase in the contract in 25 years.

Laurinda Joenks can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWALaurinda.


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