Common Council member looking to spread funding throughout SB - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Common Council member looking to spread funding throughout SB

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Is investment in South Bend's downtown coming at the expense of the rest of the city?

A Common Council member says 'yes' and tonight, she's pushing to spread the cash around.

Common Council member Valerie Schey says there's been study after study, all taking a closer look at downtown.

But she says there are other business corridors that could use a little extra attention too.

Some business owners in the River Park business district on the Mishawaka Avenue corridor say they'd get some good use out of economic development grants.

"I would like to see more money down Mishawaka Avenue, yes," says Susan Nufer who runs several businesses including Fastsigns and Maid Home Services with main offices on Mishawaka Avenue.

"We chose to move onto the avenue, Mishawaka Avenue because we like the locality of it," says Nufer.

That being said, Nufer says it's a bit unsettling seeing money being invested in other areas of the city, and not River Park, an area she says could really use it.

"We need to attract as much commercial business as possible on the corridor. It's very important to us. Seeing the vacancies as you come up and down the Avenue is heartbreaking," says Nufer.

Common Council member Valerie Schey agrees. She says downtown is sucking up all the funding for economic development.

"Right now it's a bit of a vacuum effect. All the money is going into one area," says Schey.

Schey says she thinks the city can do a better job of distributing resources.

Schey says she's looked closely at the budget and thinks some funds can be shuffled around so that each district can get $50 thousand for things like facade and beautification grants.


She's hoping areas like River Park can attract more attention from consumers.

"I guess I have a particular fondness for those little neighborhood niche business areas. So my goal with all of this is to try to develop more of those around town," says Schey.

The director of Downtown South Bend says he's all for the city taking a closer look at how money is spent. However he doesn't think too much is being invested downtown.

"There's the old adage. So goes the downtown, so goes the community," says Aaron Perri with DTSB.

He says when looking at the budget and how to allocate economic development money, equitable doesn't always mean even.

He hopes council members will be wise in how they choose to invest.

"We have to say,'this area got $1 million because they have this many more employees, this many more office buildings, this many more visitors, this much more foot traffic, this much more public infrastructure. So it has to be an investment," says Perri.

In response to Schey's effort, Mayor Buttigieg's Chief of Staff released a statement saying in part..
    "Every year, we invest all across the City to improve services, infrastructure, and safety. It's natural for a Council member to focus on her district, but the administration also must find strategies that benefit the whole city. Smart investments must often go beyond the district level. Because thousands of people work in and visit the heart of our city every day, all of us depend on downtown as a major economic engine, and some investments will focus on downtown," says Mike Schmuhl.

Schey says the Common Council will start work on the budget in May.

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