DU QUOIN - The city is entering into an agreement with the Du Quoin Business District, loaning $70,000 toward the $750,000 redevelopment of Porter's Storage and RV Rentals on the west end of town across the street from the Coca-Cola plant. Owner Chase Porter will sell used cars and RVs at the location. The plan is for the city to make its money back and more from the loan through sales tax revenues generated from the sale of the vehicles.
"We've done this (kind of loan) with other businesses going through the renovation process here in town. Save-A-Lot, Chip Banks, Dairy Queen an Taco Bell come to mind," said Mayor Guy Alongi. "There is probably a need for a used car market here in Du Quoin, and it's an opportunity to turn a building (former Ford dealership) that has been vacant for more than a decade into something special that could bring more sales tax revenue into the city."
Alongi said the city has a built-in safety net, Should the business default on its monthly payments to the bank, the city will have the opportunity to take over payments and use the building to house oversized equipment like backhoes, sewer trucks and street cleaners.
"Call it a protection on our investment," the mayor said. "Of course, that doesn't mean we want the business to fail. We want it to thrive. That way everybody wins."
Jeff Ashauer, who manages the Du Quoin Business District and TIF District. echoed Alongi's comments.
"Once an improvement is made, we have an obligation to pay it," he said. "But we expect to recapture our investment through sales tax, which is what the city needs to operate."
Ashauer said renovations would begin on the building once all the paperwork is complete.
"When it's all done, about a third of the loan will be used for acquisition and redevelopment costs, while two-thirds will be to run the business," he said.
In other news, the city council Monday:
• Hired Kelly Tripp as a part-time dispatcher
• Reappointed Dan Eaves, Chuck Smith, Brice Harsy, Tyson Tanner and Chuck Novak to the Budget and Finance Committee. All will serve three-year terms.
• Approved a one-time license fee of $100 for new businesses. All existing businesses are grandfathered in and do not have to pay the fee.