City hires consultants to help with the FairOaks project

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The exterior of FairOaks Mall in Columbus, Indiana pictured on Wednesday, August 29, 2018. Mike Wolanin | The Republic of Mike Wolanin | The Republic

The City of Columbus has signed Tobi Herron with Inspire Motives LLC to process a grant application and collect donations for the FairOaks Mall project.

“We’re asking Inspire Motives – and in this case Tobi Herron – to work for the city on two projects,” said Jamie Brinegar, City Director of Finance, Operations and Risk. “One of them is as a project manager and strategic support for the ARP grant application through the Chicago Economic Development Administration Office.”

Herron will coordinate many different groups as the city works on his proposal, and that part of the contract has an amount of $ 5,000 that cannot be exceeded.

Brinegar said the second part is “Project Management and Strategic Support” for NexusPark fundraising efforts with an amount not to exceed $ 20,000.

“We recognize that there will be some naming options for different parts within the project,” he explained, “and we need help coordinating these efforts.”

While the board unanimously approved the contract, member John Pickett had a few questions about the second part of the agreement, how fundraising will work for NexusPark and whether the company has the experience required for the project.

Community Development and Administration Director Mary Ferdon responded that there are some community leaders “doing this job” for NexusPark. She added that fundraising for this project will likely look different than other projects like the Philharmonic.

“Inspire Motives’ role will not be fundraising in and of itself, but we need someone to help us coordinate these opportunities,” said Ferdon. “There are all kinds of contracts that have to be put together somehow and help keep track of who we’ve talked to, who we haven’t talked to, which naming options are better for Baker’s Gifts than for a private individual.”

Brinegar also noted that the actual capital projects will be handled through bonding; The fundraising will not be used to cover the total cost of the project. It is more related to small naming and advertising opportunities.

“The locals we have willing to take on have worked on other fundraising projects in the past and for the community in the past,” he added. “And for that, Tobi will only be behind the scenes and coordinate everything.”

Ferdon added that it is possible that they could get into the process and find that the work only involves “providing the data for handover to a fundraising company,” but a large amount of data must be collected before this happens.

Pickett replied that he still believes the city needs to raise at least 30% of its private sector funding.

“I think you should expand the scope of work that by the time this is over you may have figured out the next phase of the campaign, including the human resources required by either a capital campaign firm or a director of professional development,” he said called.

Ferdon replied that they might expand the scope of work, but that they would need to focus on putting data together before moving on to the next phase.

“We can do it cheaper here, and we can do it with people who know the community,” she said. “… Columbus does not know a major capital campaign like we do.”

However, an outside firm sometimes has helpful resources and can “provide a level of clarity that an insider cannot,” Pickett said.

“Make sure your leadership has the infrastructure to raise this money or this project could stall for a while,” he added.

Still, Pickett followed up on the testimony by seeking approval of the deal, and it passed 5-0.


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