Having two award-winning projects in the Housing and Urban Development Department's annual national recognition program shows that Provo is "doing a lot with a little," the HUD regional administrator and housing commissioner says.
"You have done a fantastic job out here," said Grady Franklin Maples. "I am here from HUD to compliment you. I enjoy coming around to see how federal money is being spent."Provo received top honors from the federal agency for the East Bay Business Park and housing rehabilitation projects. Last week, Maples presented 14 national merit certificates for community development excellence to officials involved in the projects.
More than 400 entries from throughout the country were submitted for each recognition competition. Eleven projects were honored by HUD in a six-state area, and Provo received awards for two of them.
The two projects were selected as examples of public-private partnerships.
"Throughout his eight years in office, President Reagan has sought to reduce our dependence on huge, well-intended, but costly and often ineffective federal programs," Maples said. "Instead, he has encouraged a renewal of locally directed public-private partnership activity to address community and economic problems."
The East Bay Business Park was selected because it represents a creative use of public and private resources, Maples said. Provo relied less on federal grants or other assistance and more on the ingenuity of local leadership and resources available in the community.
The city funded projects by refunding existing bonds, charging fees for industrial revenue bonds and issuing a revenue bond where the only source of repayment was from land sales in the project.
The East Bay project has had a significant impact on the city, he said. It has provided space for new business development and expansion and created jobs. The project has generated $256,644 in property taxes and an estimated $181,250 in sales taxes.
"This is the second economic development award the city has won in the last six months - one from the state and now one from the federal government," Mayor Joe Jenkins said. "I think it is very well deserved and a momentous honor.
"It shows what we've been saying for the last couple of years that economic development is the name of the game. It is successful with a good public-private partnership."
The housing rehabilitation program began in 1974 with the use of Community Development Block Grant funds. The city provided direct loans to low-income families, senior citizens and handicapped people to improve conditions of low-income occupants.
To operate and maintain a program usually requires a staff two to three times larger than Provo's staff, Maples said. The staff has designed and built its own computer switching boxes, which allows employees to access two computers using one monitor. The staff also designed a computer program to track existing loans.
The program has resulted in improvements to more than 2,000 residences, he said.
Jenkins said: "The city has put a significant amount of dollars in the rehabilitation program to upgrade the middle of town. It has been very successful. We are going to continue to do what we can to make sure the older part of the city is maintained and funds are available for remodeling and upgrade."
To be selected for the national HUD award, a project must meet the following criteria: not harm people and communities, have an extraordinary benefit to the community, have significant improvements in the local capacity to administer community development programs, and it must be a noteworthy demonstration of the spirit of public entrepreneurship.