By Loyd McIntosh, For The Tribune
CENTER POINT — The Center Point City Council approved a resolution amending the city’s business license fee structure during the September 15 city council meeting. The new structure increases the new business license annual fee from $100 to $200.
The amendment is designed to bring the city’s business license up to par with other cities in the area while generating an expected increase of approximately $246,000 in annual revenue for the city. The additional income will help the city provide better services to city residents, according to Center Point Council President D.M. Collins.
“We’ve had this fee for our business licenses for some time now,” Collins said. “We are trying to bring more revenue into the city so that we are able to provide more services to our residents; this is just one way that allows us to do that while remaining more comparable with other cities around Center Point.”
While Collins and Center Point Mayor Bobby Scott says the change in the business license fee structure simply brings the city up to speed with neighboring cities, the move is part of an overall plan to improve Center Point’s business climate. The city’s elected and civic leaders are currently exploring ideas to fill vacant commercial property, lure new businesses, and spur a new era of entrepreneurship in Center Point.
“We’re having meetings with different people and some of the main property owners in the city to come up with a plan to fill vacant buildings in the city,” Scott said.
Collins said the Economic Development Committee, on which she serves as chairperson, is developing new incentives programs to help existing small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs to consider anchoring in Center Point.
“One of the things that we’re doing internally is creating programs to incentivize businesses to come into the city,” Collins said. “For example, the city has created a pair of grant programs for qualifying businesses; the Capital Improvement program, a grant for existing businesses, and the New Business Incentive program.
“The New Business incentive program is a grant that offers a maximum of $10,000 to assist businesses with fees and other costs that they accumulate to open a business here. That could be anything from marketing, assistance with build-out for a storefront, or anything that could bring them into the city.”
The grants are funded through the city’s ARCA funds which are earmarked to assist municipalities with the task of rebuilding their business communities following the COVID-19 shutdown. Collins said the city is specifically targeting small businesses with these grant programs.
“This is really created to incentivize small businesses and brick-and-mortar businesses to come into the city of Center Point,” Collins said. “We really want to target those small businesses with these programs.”
Recently, Center Point awarded Steve Fishman of Sigsoog LLC with each grant to assist with plans to convert the old Lee’s Pawn Shop building on Center Point Parkway into a medical facility.
“We have a medical desert here in the city, and I think this would bring great opportunities to the City of Center Point,” Collins, who has a background in health care, said. “Fortunately, we do have a doctor’s office that serves Medicare patients, but for the middle-aged, young adults, even young children, we don’t have primary care options in the city for our other populations.”
Collins said she would like to see additional retail options, such as clothing stores, casual dining restaurants, and banking, choose to do business in Center Point.