Bessemer DDA gets mini-marketing grant from WUPPDR


April 12, 2019


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Bessemer — Members of Bessemer’s Downtown Development Authority learned Thursday that they received an $8,000 grant from the Western Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Region.

City manager Charly Loper said the funds, which include an additional $2,000 required match from the DDA, will be applied to creating videos aimed at marketing the city as a great place in which to work and live.

“We are going to be focusing on six short videos of people who work here,” said Loper, who added that attention will be on the DDA’s pop-up shop program, which supports new business owners with limited funding during the first several months of their operation.

According to the city manager, one of the central focuses will be the message that “you can have the cool lifestyle here” and still be able to pay your bills.

Loper said the plan is to create three or four videos during the warmer season, including attention to the area’s summer activities. Remaining videos then will be made as colder weather sets in.

The completed videos then will be placed online in venues such as Facebook.

While the city awaits the related paperwork, Loper asked DDA members to start thinking of appropriate subjects to interview in the videos.

She said the finished project should help to boost the city’s pop-up program in general.

Board member Dustin Filippini found the grant opportunity online, and DDA members voted to pursue it at their Feb. 14 meeting.

Big Sidewalk Funds

In other news, DDA members voted to apply for a grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

If issued, the grant would fund the widening of the projected sidewalk area on the south side of U.S. 2 for several blocks.

The grant requires the DDA to commit nearly $12,000 in matching funds, which members agreed was well worth the proposed project.

Loper said that, if the grant is offered, the project would be done in conjunction with MDOT’s reconfiguration of U.S. Hwy. 2 throughout Bessemer in 2021, when the city also will address water and sewer work under the highway.

Rangeland Real Estate

The potential grant would be from MDOT’s Transportation Alternatives program. As described on MDOT’s website, the TAP grant “uses federal transportation funds designated by Congress for specific activities that enhance the intermodal transportation system and provide safe alternative transportation options.”

Loper said the matching federal funds of about $12,000 would be via the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

As mayor Adam Zak explained, “With MDOT’s plans, there’s already going to be a sidewalk on both sides.” He added, however, that the TAP grant would expand the width of the sidewalk south of U.S. Hwy. 2.

Moreover, he said a colored, stamped concrete design would be a more practical aesthetic element than the grass median that had been discussed at earlier meetings.

Loper said the new sidewalk system to be created next to the highway so far has not been intended for biking.

“The theory is to try to use the Iron Belle Trail for bikes and to use U.S. 2 for walking, wheelchairs, etc.,” she said.

Zak and DDA member Dan Whitburn, however, said that maybe the expanded sidewalk plan might make it possible to negotiate bike traffic on the highway’s south side.

The authority also:

—Voted to fund welcome signs, at a cost of $7,500 each, on each side of town, per a design provided by Doug Kikkebusch of Bessemer. Loper said she will check to see consult Kikkebusch regarding whether he’d like to follow through with the project.

—Voted to approve a contract between the DDA and the city, in which the two parties agree to share the cost of snow removal on designated city sidewalks starting in 2021. Loper said she now will take the contract to the city council, after which the parties will pursue the cost of related snowplowing equipment.

The DDA’s next meeting will be on May 9 at 4 p.m. in the downstairs DDA office of the City Hall.


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