Dear mayor and councilors,
My name is Ross Swartzendruber, President of Salem Creative Network which is located at 365 Ferry St SE downtown. I am speaking tonight in favor of resolution 3.2a – a grant approval to the Salem Main Street Association to further economic promotion activity within the Downtown Parking District.
Salem Creative Network was organized in 2009 to provide creative solutions through social innovation. Removing barriers to market growth downtown became one area of our educational efforts. After a few years of market-testing, two areas of development were identified; creation of entertainment-friendly policies and targeted public funding.
In 2012, we invited Jim Peters of the Responsible Hospitality Institute to speak about the process of creating an entertainment district in Salem. His organization helped create dozens of entertainment districts in North America, including Austin, Seattle and Nashville. Salem was identified as a nascent night time economy, needing improvements in political will and noise policy to grow.
With the move to provide Parking Tax fund promotional grants to local organizations, it appears that political will now favors growing the night time economy.
The downtown parking tax fund was established primarily to provide funding for downtown promotions. Since the dissolution of the Economic Improvement District, promotional grants to organizations from the Parking Tax Fund have dwindled from $100,000 to $0.
Approving a grant for the Salem Main Street Association would begin to restore targeted funding for downtown promotions. And since the parking tax funding has grown to over $1,000,000, Salem Creative Network recommends increasing the grant value to $100,000 for FY 2017-18.
In addition, Salem Creative Network asks all interested parties to help the City of Salem create an Entertainment District that allows daytime noise levels of 70dB until midnight without extra permitting.
A Salem Entertainment District would leverage accommodations, food services, arts, entertainment and recreation as cultural amenities that attract a higher density downtown, help new and small businesses and create a city where people stay and grow.
Please approve resolution 3.2a, allow other organizations to apply for parking tax grants and start an open process to create the Salem Entertainment District. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Salem, Creative Network
365 Ferry St SE
Salem, OR 97301