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City’s sales tax helps fuel economic development

Posted 1/26/11 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

It’s hard to believe that a penny could go very far, but for the Watford City Roughrider Fund, the pennies have added up, making Watford City and its surrounding communities a great place to live.
Since its inception in 1998, the Roughrider Fund has given grants for more than $1 million, including the $310,382.50 that it gave out locally in 2010. That’s a lot of pennies.
“The Roughrider Fund is funded by a one-cent city sales tax,” says Jim Svihovec, Watford City Roughrider Fund chairman. “The purpose of the fund is to help better Watford City and the surrounding communities through grants to area communities and businesses.”
While the fund focuses on bringing in new business and residents, it also works to help existing businesses better themselves.
“Our policy since the inception of the fund has been to help make our community and the surrounding communities a great place to live,” adds Svihovec. “We achieve our goal through grants to businesses, recreation projects, housing projects, healthcare projects and tourism projects. We are willing to look at just about anything that will help to better McKenzie County.”
Due to the recent oil activity and an increase in local sales, the Roughrider Fund has been able to help more projects and also look at some bigger projects that it otherwise would not have had funding for.
“Thanks to the revenue increase, we were able to give a large grant to the new wellness center and look at some other big projects,” comments Svihovec. “Even though it is allowing us to do more, the increase in revenue will not take our focus away from area businesses and other smaller projects. It just gives us the opportunity to expand our giving.”
When the Roughrider Fund started in 1998, it focused on helping Main Street businesses update and remodel in an effort to make Watford City’s Main Street a nice place to visit. Today, most businesses on Main Street have upgraded and the fund has been able to broaden its funding to other applications within the county.
“Main Street looks great,” states Svihovec. “But we don’t want to drop the fund just because its original goal has been met. Today we are looking to create and retain jobs, increase Watford City’s tax base and in general, improve the area we live in by granting money throughout the county.”
If you’re interested in updating, expanding or starting a new business in McKenzie County, the Roughrider Fund may be able to help you.
“Those interested in applying for a grant simply need to fill out an application,” adds Svihovec. “The Roughrider Fund Committee reviews the applications before sending its recommendations to the Watford City City Council, where the final decisions are made.”
If you think a grant from the Roughrider Fund could help your business or community project, applications can be picked up at the Watford City City Hall.