State officials are giving Cedar Rapids leaders more time to get the matching money together to qualify for a 10-million dollar state grant from the Vision Iowa program. That 10-million dollar state grant was put in jeopardy Tuesday when Linn County voters rejected a one-cent local option sales tax — the money raised would have helped finance the city’s “River Run” project to revitalize a run-down business corridor along the Cedar River. Michael Gartner, chairman of the Vision Iowa board, says Cedar Rapids leaders will get more time to see if they can raise the money some other way. He says scaling back the project is not an option as the city would have to reapply. The local option sales tax would have raised about 32-million dollars for the River Run project in the next two years. Ron Corbett, president of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, says he’ll ask citizens why the sales tax proposal failed.If city leaders make any changes in the 150-million dollar River Run plan, they’ll lose the 10-million dollar state grant and have to reapply. Corbett says that could mean they’re awarded less money or Cedar Rapids might lose out to another community that comes forward with another plan The state grant program for smaller tourism projects will stop processing new applications. The CATT or Community Attractions and Tourism Program has 18-million dollars worth of requests, but only six-million dollars left to distribute. Gartner has instructed staff not to process new applications until the 26 projects in the pipeline already have been acted upon. Gartner expected the Legislature to approve additional money for the CATT grants, but that didn’t happen. Gartner says that means the board will have to carefully consider which communities will get the six-million dollars that remains. Gartner hopes to move quickly because some communities have everything in place to begin construction if they’re awarded a CATT grant.
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