Coon Rapids receives a grant from visitors bureau

The city of Coon Rapids has received a $15,384 grant from Twin Cities Gateway (TCG) Visitors Bureau.

A $15,384 check was presented to Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe (left) by Steve Markuson, executive director of the Twin Cities Gateway Visitors Bureau.
A $15,384 check was presented to Coon Rapids Mayor Tim Howe (left) by Steve Markuson, executive director of the Twin Cities Gateway Visitors Bureau.

Coon Rapids is one of nine-member cities of the visitors bureau, which provides community grants to all of them.

According to Coon Rapids City Manager Matt Fulton, the TCG Board has increased its funding for the community grant program.

Each member city now receives a minimum grant of $3,000 with additional incremental funding per member city based on the overall percentage of lodging tax receipts generated 2011 to each city, Fulton said.

TC Gateway is funded by a 3 percent lodging tax levied on all hotels/motels in the member cities.

Steve Markuson, TCG Visitors Bureau executive director, presented the check to Mayor Tim Howe at the June 5 Coon Rapids City Council.

Markuson also presented Howe with two large banners that the city can showcase at events for which the TCG grant has been used.

One banner features the signature golf hole at city’s Bunker Hills Golf Course and the other depicts a bicyclist on the city’s trail system, Markuson said.

According to Howe, Coon Rapids was a driving force in the creation of the visitors bureau for the northern suburbs.

“It has gone very well,” Howe said.

TCG has a marketing budget of $600,000 to promote activities that will draw visitors to member communities, Markuson said.

The Twin Cities Gateway is a group of nine communities adjacent to Minneapolis and St. Paul, located on the northern edge of the Twin Cities. Members include Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Ham Lake, Lino Lakes, Mounds View, New Brighton and Shoreview.

Under the criteria developed by the TCG Board, on which Coon Rapids is represented, the city can use the grant dollars for the promotion of a community festival or event or multiple events or use it as appropriate to market and promote other facilities/amenities in the community, Fulton said.

The city is required to document how the grant funding is used by providing copies of expense receipts/invoices, he said.

Per council policy, 90 percent of the funding ($13,845.60) will go to the city’s Community Strength Foundation with the balance of $1,538.40 placed in the contract grants account in the city’s general fund, according to Fulton.

The foundation, which was formed last year, was the idea of Howe. It brings together representatives of community/civic groups under one umbrella as well as representatives of the city.

The foundation is operated exclusively for charitable purposes, promoting Coon Rapids “through civic celebrations, the arts and healthy community building events and activities,” according to its articles of incorporation.

The foundation’s funds don’t come from the taxpayers. The TCG is one source, so is 90 percent of the 5 percent the city gets from local charitable gambling license holders.

One of the primary events that the foundation plans to financially support is the Fourth of July fireworks display at Sand Creek Park, according to Fulton.

In addition, the foundation has donated $1,500 to the Coon Rapids Citizens Academy, an eight-week program designed to give residents an up-close behind the scene look at city government, which took place earlier this year.

The foundation board comprises representatives of community service organizations, charitable gaming organizations, city advisory commissions, fire relief association and general community members.

John Leggate, Coon Rapids North Star Lions Club, is the chairman, with Diane Buszta, Coon Rapids Snowflake Association, the secretary, and Mary Ann Kehn, Coon Rapids Arts Commission, the treasurer.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]