The MAMA Board met Wednesday morning to decide what to recommend to the entire membership, and decided not to dissolve.
“We are going to continue as a corporation at this point but we are going to do it in a holding pattern,” MAMA Board President Dave Laursen said after the meeting. “We have some dollars in the coffer and we are trying to decide what to do with those.”
Those assets came up during the meeting, when Mayor Kathy Ellis asked about $60,000 that the city claims MAMA owes them – money the city wants to give to the new Downtown Development Authority, she said.
Laursen downplayed the question, saying that MAMA had fulfilled its contract to the city and came in under budget.
The city has written several letters to MAMA about the money, the latest on March 30 from City Attorney Russ Duree, which states in part: “The inescapable conclusion is that there has been an overpayment for services.”
Duree said Wednesday morning that MAMA should return the $60,000 because it’s taxpayer money.
“The bottom line for the City of Montrose is that tax money for retail enhancement should be applied to its intended purpose,” he said.
But the purpose of MAMA was the main focus of the discussion at the Monday night meeting, and several business owners expressed their opinions.
“My only concern is that it’s a bit premature to say, ‘fold up your tent,’” said Greg Fishering of All Points Transit. “We haven’t seen what can happen with (Montrose) ACT, and I haven’t seen any budget or bylaws.
Fishering was referring to city retail enhancement fees that formerly went to MAMA but now go to Montrose ACT.
Laursen explained that MAMA couldn’t be dissolved without following certain procedures, including a vote from the 1,700 members of MAMA. He also said that MAMA’s main programs, including Main in Motion, MAMA Bucks and the Kudos Award have all been transferred to Montrose ACT.
“We’re in a tough spot,” said Boardmember Bob Brown. “We don’t have a lot of options, but we do have some. We want to hear merchants speak.”
Many did, including Jody Holland of Affordable Inns and Briarwood Inns, who said MAMA could be used to bring “five or six major events” to Montrose.
“We don’t have much to market if we don’t have events,” she said. “We need to make Montrose a destination place, we have got to do something economically to make a big change, and fast.”
Riyanon Keep of Black Dog Equipment suggested that MAMA could recreate itself to help more small businesses, and mentioned business incubator classes in Grand Junction.
“It would be wonderful to have something like that here. We don’t want to duplicate services, but so many businesses are in survival mode,” she said.
Steve Savoy of Best Signs, a Montrose ACT boardmember, said, “It’s wise to consider whatever you can do not to dissolve,” and suggested getting feedback from the Small Business Development Center at Western State.
Along with the entire Montrose City Council, several people from Montrose ACT were in the audience, including CEO Ken Brengle.
“I think maybe we could work with MAMA, and SBDC and Region 10, on a ‘lone eagle exchange’ where noncompeting businesses can look at your business and give advice,” Brengle said. “Our pressing job is to market this community, and if we can work with MAMA on some things, then great.”
Another suggestion was to reform the MAMA organization to cover the county or region rather than just the city.
“If we go county or regional, we could create vendor fees county wide,” Laursen said. “The West End needs help, and there is opportunity and possible funding at the county level.”
Many other suggestions were made at the meeting about ways that MAMA can help small businesses survive, but no one suggested shutting down MAMA, including Mary Hert of Days Inn.
“From what I’ve heard, I don’t think we should dissolve,” she said.