Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Could nonprofit groups ease Ketchum's woes?

Express Staff Writer

What does Ketchum want for Christmas? More affordable housing? Better preservation of its historic buildings? Land acquisition?

New nonprofit agencies could help the city get all that and more—if Ketchum throws support behind the effort.

Economic development consultant Tom Hudson, under contract with Ketchum to help devise a downtown master plan, proposed the idea of nonprofit groups helping with the city's revitalization.

Hudson said grants could be available to fund the agencies themselves, as well as their projects.

Urban renewal districts, community development corporations and community development financial institutions are entities that can help towns reinvigorate themselves.

"There's a range of opportunities, including a manager of the downtown master plan project," said Ketchum City Administrator Ron LeBlanc.

The master plan manager position could implement the plan once Hudson creates the framework.

One community development corporation could oversee multiple projects, or different CDCs could take on issues of their own, LeBlanc said.

"It could be an umbrella (group) or several groups," he said. "There has to be discussions with the City Council. They'll have to ask: 'What are our priorities? Where's the need?' We don't want to duplicate what the (Blaine-Ketchum) Housing Authority does, (for example)."

Phase 1 of Hudson's work will wrap up in late January. The council will discuss where and how it wants to proceed with the next two phases.

LeBlanc said those discussions will likely include what nonprofit agencies would be useful for the city.

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