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City doubles Downtown Springdale Alliance contract to $100,000

by Doug Thompson | March 24, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
Gabe Carter visits with Madalyn Love Tuesday at Trailside Coffee Company off the Razorback Trail and across from Turnbow Park at Shiloh Square in downtown Springdale. Check out nwaonline.com/210224Daily/ for todays photo gallery (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Spencer Tirey)

SPRINGDALE -- The City Council agreed to double the yearly amount paid to the Downtown Springdale Alliance to $100,000, but on the condition any other requests for an increase from the alliance come during the city's regular end-of-the-year budget process.

The measure still required Mayor Doug Sprouse to cast the deciding vote. Two aldermen voted against the increase and four for it, leaving the measure one vote shy of the needed majority of the eight-member council until Sprouse intervened.

Jill Dabbs, executive director of the Downtown Springdale Alliance, asked the City Council for the increase on March 1, after the budget process had ended.

The city pays the alliance for its work to promote and revitalize the city's downtown area.

The alliance was formed five years ago with one staff member and one event to coordinate per year. Now it is involved in events nine months of the year, Dabbs has said. The organization now employs two full-time and one part-time employee. The increase in the contract would help pay for another employee to be present during events downtown, Dabbs said when she made the request.

The alliance earns part of its $300,000 operating budget from ticket sales and sponsorships. "But not all of our events make money or are intended to," Dabbs said in her request. Some are intended as benefits to the community without attempting to fully recoup the cost, such as a 2019 Ozarktober festival bonfire that attracted 1,000 spectators. A similar event planned last year was canceled during the covid-19 pandemic.

The Walton Family Foundation and the Tyson Foods Foundation provided the alliance with starting money five years ago that's mostly used up.

The alliance manages the rentals of Shiloh Square and Turnbow Park. Other responsibilities for the alliance include managing the 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 administering large grants awarded to the city.

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.

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