TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Rio Nuevo taxing district voted to offer a stimulus plan for small, downtown businesses while they wait for federal stimulus prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
By a 5-1 vote, the district voted to limit the plan to $2.5 million but it could be more if the city of Tucson votes to participate.
The board was hoping for a dollar-for-dollar match from the city but it must still go through a process.
Instead of waiting for the city, Rio Nuevo set up a three-person panel to draw up an application form that will be distributed to each business inside the district, which encompasses downtown and stretches down Broadway Boulevard to the area near Park Place Mall.
If approved, the money would be in the form of a grant, which does not need to be repaid.
The goal is to get money to the businesses in the short term while they wait for federal stimulus dollars which must go through a longer process.
“Not only is downtown dark and under extreme peril," said Board Chair Fletcher McCusker. “But it went from thriving to maybe not even surviving.”
In order to pay for the stimulus, the board will put some of its projects on hold.
Rio Nuevo has been the engine that has propelled downtown to a nearly $2 billion growth spurt in the past 10 years.
Its funding comes from sales tax revenues paid in the district. If businesses close, revenues drop.
“Revenues may fall to zero,” McCusker said. “But we’re not going to allow this invisible enemy to cause us to falter.”