Dunwoody has plans to beef up its festival game through funding from the city’s Development Authority and other organizations.
During a Nov. 18 meeting of the Dunwoody Development Authority, authority members discussed the creation of an “experience-making fund” to help fund festivals and other events that they hope would draw in people and business to the city.
“Part of economic development has sort of transitioned into … creating a place where not only companies want to come, but more importantly people want to come,” said Economic Development Director Michael Starling. “The concept here is to use part of our funds that we have built up to help make these activities happen.”
The proposed fund would have the Development Authority, which is a government body that issues tax abatements for real estate projects, take $175,000 of its revenue from closing fees to help fund an organization that would be in charge of planning these types of events. The $175,000 would be spread out over five years, beginning in 2022.
The authority agreed to this proposal contingent on the agreement of the city and the city’s tourism organization, Discover Dunwoody, to match the authority’s funds. Initially, the proposal stated that the authority would offer 10% of its revenue from closing fees to the fund. However, authority member Bill McCahan suggested switching from a hard percentage to an actual monetary amount for the time being.
“The $175,000 as a reserve fund over five years, that’s okay,” McCahan said. “Make it contingent upon the other people coming in with their equivalency to make a viable working fund.”
Starling said the organization that would receive the funds would be Create Dunwoody, a public art organization created along with the city’s Arts and Culture Master Plan in 2018.
“That group was supposed to sort of take over activities,” Starling said. “Not just festivals, but public art and other things. They’ve been meeting, but it’s very difficult to get started without any funding.”
Starling said as of now, Create Dunwoody is a volunteer-based organization. If the authority, the city, and Discover Dunwoody chose to fund the organization, it would most likely become a professional one with a paid staff.
The city did not respond to questions about its thoughts regarding the fund, but a spokesperson did confirm that Starling plans to discuss the fund with the city manager, mayor, and the rest of the city council in the coming weeks.
Discover Dunwoody did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.