HANFORD — Most residents know Main Street Hanford as the organization that arranges Thursday Night Market Place; but what exactly does it do with money it receives from the City and downtown businesses?
Businesses located within Hanford’s Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) pay an additional assessment along with their annual business license fee. This assessment, collected by the city of Hanford, is then dispersed to two places: Main Street Hanford and the City’s Downtown Reinvestment Fund.
According to the City, the total BID assessment has been just over $103,000 for each of the City’s last two fiscal years. Main Street currently receives $81,000 per year and the remainder of approximately $22,000 is moved to the Downtown Reinvestment Fund.
Money from the Downtown Reinvestment Fund can only be spent on projects within the BID boundaries — such as the recent parking lot rehabilitation project at Sixth and Douty streets.
What do downtown Hanford businesses get from Main Street for their $81,000?
The short answer is that Main Street spends over $300,000 per year promoting and supporting downtown Hanford. Actual expenditures in 2016 were $313,253 and about $320,000 is estimated for this year.
The difference between the $81,000 Main Street receives from the City and the $320,000 it spends is made up by revenue generated by Main Street events.
What exactly is that $320,000 used for?
About 40 percent of the money pays for the 27 events the organization puts on. Thursday Night Market Place runs from May until September and makes up 23 of those events. Just the direct expenses for putting on Thursday Night Market Place are $96,000; the combined cost of the other four events is $33,000.
Main Street Hanford has two full-time employees, Executive Director Shelly Johnson and Office Manager Michelle Brown, which means its second-largest expense is payroll. Payroll and payroll taxes run about $100,000 a year, or 31 percent of the total.
Johnson and Brown are responsible for planning and executing all Main Street events and coordinating all the volunteers who help at each one. They also take care of all the administrative duties associated with operating a $300,000 per year enterprise.
Johnson said Main Street seasonally employs around eight people to work during Thursday Night Market Place; but besides that, has over 50 volunteers to work various events.
After payroll, one of Main Street’s largest single costs is insurance at $20,000 per year. Other large line items are professional services, which include both accounting and legal services at $10,000 per year and rent at $8,400 per year.
Below are some ongoing services Main Street provides:
- Façade grants — matching funds for storefront renovations.
- Power washing — undoing what the crows do to the sidewalks.
- Twinkle lights — maintenance and replacement of holiday lights.
- Lending library — business books in Hanford Public Library.
- BID member education — how to take advantage of Main Street and other programs.
- Advertising/promotion — image building, supporting BID members’ promotions.
How do events benefit downtown?
Thursday Night Market Place alone brings 65,000-70,000 people downtown each year. Witches’ Night Out brings about 2,000 people downtown and tickets were sold out as soon as they went on sale this year.
Each event requires extensive planning, coordinating and working with multiple city departments to get the proper permits, licenses and insurance.
Besides taking a brief two-week break at the end of the year, Johnson said she and Brown have very little downtime and are always looking ahead and working on the next event. She said she loves the job and is passionate about making downtown successful.
Staff time is also spent advocating for businesses within the BID, recruitment of new businesses (Main Street met with 19 potential businesses last year) and partnering with other organizations such as the Hanford Chamber of Commerce for activities that benefit the entire community.
Main Street has also responded to the unexpected needs of BID members over the years:
- Vendome building fire — assisted four businesses with relocation and provided $1,000 cash to each business.
- ADA inspections — following a series of lawsuits against some BID members for not being in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Main Street put on an educational workshop and provided $500 each to nine member businesses to help pay for an ADA compliance inspections.
- Historic carousel — granted $10,000 to rebuild the gears.
- Downtown projects with the city of Hanford — granted $65,000 for multiple projects for plants, trees and tree grates.
What’s the bottom line?
Main Street Hanford receives $81,000 per year from the city of Hanford and turns it into about $220,000 — total spending minus paid employees — worth of events, promotion, maintenance, services and cash grants for downtown businesses.
Johnson said the organization is proud to be able to take the assessment funds collected and essentially triple those funds to organize activities and events downtown and promote downtown in general.
“We feel good about the benefit we’re providing,” Johnson said.