City staff seeking grants

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By Jesef Williams

Jesef Williams
Officials want to see if the city of Lancaster can further solidify itself as a regional arts advocate.
Teresa Meeks, the city’s support service director, and Cherry Doster, who works in marketing for the city, spoke at City Council’s March 26 meeting about the chance to establish an arts business incubator in the city.
The facility would give artists and artisans throughout the region a place to create their goods. Food entrepreneurs would be able to use the site to produce and distribute their goods, as well.
But before any of that can happen, the city must pay for a feasibility study to determine if the city could support such an endeavor.
Meeks and Doster told council about available grant money through the U.S.
Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development division.
This Rural Businesses Opportunity Grant is for $75,000, with the city not required to provide a match.
Council voted unanimously March 26 to allow staff to apply for the grant.
“This will also open up partnerships for us,” Doster said about having an arts incubator. “The city of Lancaster needs to see if we’re at a point where we can sustain this.”
If created, the incubator would target municipalities and communities in Chester, Fairfield and Lancaster counties. A timeline projection calls for the project to go out for bids in late 2013, with work being completed in 2014.
“The increased income and availability of local products would encourage more artists and craftspeople to stay in the region and to become economically viable small businesses,” city staff wrote in the grant application. “Because availability of local products is a top tourism interest, the region would gain from increased tourism as well.”
Other grants
During the meeting, City Council also unanimously approved the submission and subsequent acceptance of:
- A $6,000 grant from the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The money would go toward advertising for this year’s Red Rose Festival.
- A $3,000 grant from the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism to offset advertising costs for the Ag-Art Tour. The event, set for June 22-23, will showcase growers, cultural sites, historical sites and artists.
Budget calendar
City Council voted unanimously March 26 to approve the calendar for adopting the city’s 2013-14 budget. Key dates are:
- April 23 – City Administrator Helen Sowell and Finance Director James Absher will present a recommended balanced budget for City Council and the finance committee  to review
- May 9 – City Council will hold a budget work session
- May 14 – First reading (of two) of the 2013-14 budget
- June 4 – A public hearing will be held as council holds a work session for second reading
- June 11 – Second (final) reading of the 2013-14 budget

Contact reporter Jesef Williams
at (803) 283-1152