Probably one of the longest and least exciting parts of the Oct. 23 Mesquite City Council was by far the most important.
It was the council agreeing to enter a contract with Mesquite Regional Business. But MRB will likely do more for the future of Mesquite than the Re/Max Long Drive Championships or the addition of short-term rentals to our market. Both of those latter issues are indeed important, and will attract more visitors and even permanent residents.
But MRB intends to attract much more – new businesses and new industries. I incorrectly reported the council’s action last week on the MRB. I said the council “established” the organization.
Dave Ballweg, the secretary/treasurer for the business, was quick to shoot me an e-mail after he read the council story on our on-line edition. It was too late to “Stop the Presses” however and the error, while corrected on the website, made it into print.
Ballweg straightened me out: “Mesquite Regional Business (MRB) was established independent of the City of Mesquite by private citizens. The concept of MRB grew out of a committee established by the city council. Last night (Oct. 23) was the culmination of the process and was the approval of a contract between the City of Mesquite and MRB to provide economic development services. An element of this contract was the funding, but there were many other issues of reporting and performance requirements that where a significant part of this approved contract. MRB is a private 501(c)6 Nevada Corporation that has contracted with the City of Mesquite to provide specific services. It is not part of city government.”
Ballweg later explained that, “There has been a history in Mesquite of public perceptions and attitudes of groups associated with the City. Those misunderstandings have had negative impact on what are good efforts.”
I know what he means. In my short year and a half here I’ve noticed that some residents don’t care much for city government. “It’s a den of thieves,” I once was told.
But since the election of June 2011, just two weeks before I moved to Mesquite, attitudes seem to be improving. Mayor Mark Weir has been building confidence with the community, but I don’t blame Ballweg for wanting the public to know MRB is private and not part of government.
But while not part of municipal government, the mayor and council are keeping an eye on it. That was obvious before the eventual, unanimous vote was taken to approve the contract.
Councilmen grilled Aaron Baker, the city’s interim Economic Development Department director, about how the MRB planned to be funded after the first six months when the city’s contribution of $95,000 runs out in June 2013.
He noted the private group couldn’t seek outside funding until after it had a contract with the city. The city, however, will help support the MRB with the funds previously set aside its own economic development department. Those payments are to be disbursed on a semi-annual basis. But MRB must provide financial statements, detailing its outside income, if any, and expenses for the previous six months.
After the vote, Baker announced MRB had just received a $5,000 commitment. It’s a small start… but a start. The council’s action may well prove to be the best decision it’s yet made for the future of Mesquite.