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Bumping up business

Folsom creates assessment district, grants loan
By: Roger Phelps The Telegraph
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A business boost to old-town Folsom is targeted in a pair of recent city actions. City Council members recently authorized a special zone known as a business-improvement district, which collects assessments from merchants and spends them on programs designed to increase customer traffic in the area. "The Historic Folsom Property and Business Improvement District will establish various programs to increase the commercial activity in Historic Folsom … such as a comprehensive marketing and promotions plan, property and business coordination services and maintenance services beyond what is currently provided by the city," wrote Amy Feagans, redevelopment and housing director, in a report to council members. A business-assessment district can use proceeds of hire consultants and researchers. Folsom official estimate the city will contribute nearly $62,000 the first year, partly out of its Redevelopment Agency account. The sum would rise by 3 percent a year, with the agency's share reduced when agency property in the Sutter Street area is sold to private developers, city documents show. The property in question is the so-called Railroad Block of Sutter, now home to the city's new multi-story public parking facility. Bob Miller, senior vice president of SEDCorp, promoters of economic development along the Highway 50 corridor, said the assessment-district tool has been known to work. "I haven't been involved in a BID personally, but my opinion is they are a positive driving force to improve portions of a city, almost like redevelopment," Miller said. "If we get it done, it's going to be a drawing card for money from somewhere else." Miller said Sutter Street has potential that the assessment district could help develop. "You go to Grass Valley and other places that have that, and they are a weekend attraction," Miller said. "Sutter Street is near Lake Natoma. We're working with the state to have things like paddle boats available on Lake Natoma." The assessment district will be governed by the Folsom Historic District Association. In addition, Folsom July 8 granted an association request for a loan of $50,000. "With limited city resources, the area has lacked a comprehensive approach to managing the commercial area and the services needed," Feagans reported to the council.