Through the City of Montrose’s Tourism/Promotion Fund, the approved project would offer $20,000 a year for the next two years with an option to continue that funding for up to five years, totaling a maximum of $100,000. The funding will be made up of cash and possibly tax incentives and/or waived building permit fees. While 3M will use the funding to complete its Ross Reels relocation project within Montrose, the plan is intended to be mutually beneficial for both the city and Ross Reels, as the funding will also create a joint marketing and cross promotional plan. With the city’s funding contribution, it is expected that Montrose will be advertised along with Ross Reels across regional markets.
The original plan discussed by Montrose City Manager Bill Bell and 3M officials before Tuesday’s meeting was for five years, but some members of council didn’t agree that funds should be dedicated for that long and opted for the two years with the option of three more. Bell will now take Tuesday’s council-approved plan to 3M to see if they are amenable to the changes.
“One of our goals is to maintain jobs,” Councilmember Carol McDermott said during the deliberations on Tuesday. “It is important for us as a community to stand up for businesses…We think this is a great opportunity to show the world how we are business-friendly. Our city manager has come up with a proposal that will serve us well and we can afford it.”
Before council’s approval, several members of the public addressed council with questions and concerns about the proposal and how the project idea became a reality. The project first started with the Montrose Economic Development Council when it was doing a routine visit with the business to “see how things were going,” according to MEDC Chairman Bruce Panter. After that inquiry, 3M/Ross Reels representatives continued the conversation, stating that the company was considering consolidating its operations in Montrose and even considering moving its operations to another state.
“On April 17 they contacted us via a phone call and then followed up by an email on April 19,” said MEDC President Sandy Head. “They said their margins aren’t what they need to be and they were considering whether to stay in Montrose or consolidate and move. They started that initial dialogue, which was to say they needed to do something different.”
It was then MEDC began working with Bell on ways to retain Ross Reels, which has 20 full-time employees who make an average of $54,000 a year. After hours of work and discussion, the cross promotion proposal was formed. Montrose resident Roger Brown expressed concern that the city was ready to hand over money to 3M without even hearing from a 3M official.
“I think it is very unusual for a body such as yourself to consider an investment with no appearance from them,” Brown said. “It is taxpayer money and I think it would be totally appropriate for someone from this company to come here and say ‘thank you for your consideration. We are looking forward to staying in Montrose.’ Right now, it is nameless and faceless.”
Resident Scott Scarborough questioned whether or not the funding from the city would fix the problem.
“I do want to commend you for coming to the front on this and trying to do something,” Scarborough said. “Job retention is incredibly important in this day and age. The question I have is, is this going to solve the problem? Is this going to do the trick? Are other businesses who have fallen on hard times going to come to the city for help? I would ask you to think about that.”
After addressing most of the questions and concerns, council then deliberated on the funding and made a motion to approve with several amendments. The question that has not yet been answered is if 3M will be willing to stay in Montrose with this approved, two-year proposal.
“It is hard to say,” Bell said. “I told them a five-year period. I am sure they would consider a two-year proposal as being better than no proposal at all.”
It is unclear when Bell will hear an answer from 3M representatives.
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