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Business grants OK'd by Superior commission

With more funding requested than was available, the plan commission balanced spending on some small business grants.

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City Council Chambers, Superior, Wisconsin. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
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SUPERIOR — The city's plan commission debated for more than an hour Wednesday, June 15, how to distribute $73,586 in small business grants to cover $82,110.70 in grant requests for the second quarter of 2022.

In the end, they managed to provide most grant recipients with full grants for their projects, without going over budget after one fully-funded recipient offered to accept $190 less for his project to balance the budget.

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Former city councilor and owner of Jimmy’s Saloon in Billings Park, Keith Kern, stepped up to accept a lesser grant after the commission managed to reduce overall spending to $73,776, which would have required the commission to borrow from third or fourth quarter grants. The commission has $50,000 available for each quarter, and only had $73,586 available after first quarter grants awarded totaled $26,414, the total amount requested.

When the commission accepted that offer, it reduced Kern’s funding from $13,125 to $12,935 to renovate the exterior of Jimmy’s Saloon and a garage, expected to cost $37,500.

While some commissioners were reticent to borrow from future allotments, others argued it was only $190 after reducing funding for DSC Communications and the Superior Amateur Hockey Association.

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DSC will receive $9,750 of its requested $15,000 grant to replace a small server and allow the company, which has been in Superior since 1995, to maintain its headquarters in Superior after acquiring Granite Electronics in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Overall project costs are $60,077.40.

SAHA, which is planning to install video surveillance and security cameras, will only receive $5,798 of it’s original $8,921.25 grant request. Anticipated costs for the project are $19,825.

Commissioner Brent Fennessey, who proposed the reductions, said those two proposals didn’t meet the grant program’s stated mission of improving the businesses aesthetically.

Fennessey also recommended reducing elements of proposals by Eddie’s World Famous Ribs in the Itasca neighborhood and Tower Avenue Plaza that didn’t address the primary mission.

“I think some of those items that may seem a little mundane or routine … I view them a little bit differently,” Commissioner Brian Finstad said. He lobbied to fully fund Eddie’s, which has been around since the late 1800s, but has come under new ownership, and Tower Avenue Plaza, which is undergoing renovations to become a business incubator.

Fully funded grants approved include:

  • Anchor Bar, $4,652.95 to replace and repair siding and windows on the front of the building; repair siding on the north side of the building; and buy a new refrigerator. Total project costs are $10,339.89.
  • Eddie’s World Famous Ribs anticipates $56,046.40 to renovate the restaurant at 5221 E. Fourth Street and is recommended to receive $14,011.60 in grant funding.
  • Superior Tavern, 1224 Tower Ave., was approved by the commission to receive $11,400 toward a $28,500 project to install new walk-in beer coolers.
  • Tower Avenue Plaza was granted $15,000 toward its $60,641.38 renovation of 1019 Tower Ave.

The Superior City Council will consider the grant recommendations when it meets July 5.
This story was updated Friday, June 17 at 8:20 a.m. to clarify that DSC Communications acquired Granite Electronics of St. Cloud, Minnesota. It originally posted at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 16.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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