Bismarck has a lot more dining options than Mandan does.
So the Mandan Growth Fund Committee put a proposal on the table that it says would encourage the opening of more restaurants.
And encourage others to expand.
The Mandan Growth Fund Committee says there's a need for more eateries in the city. Their proposed restaurant rewards program, means new establishments would receive a rebate of one percent local sales tax for five years.
The plan would also set aside $162,000 for interest buy-downs. But at the April 5 city commission meeting, some voiced their displeasure with the program.
"The consumers are paying those tax dollars and those tax dollars could be used to lower our property taxes. Or those tax dollars could be used to make improvements in our community," said Susan Beehler, Mandan resident.
"Why aren't we using the hospitality tax? I mean we could could certainly could justify this as bringing in tourism, like you did with the YMCA. In fact, a restaurant should be much more of a tourist attraction than a YMCA. So why not the hospitality tax?," said Wayne Papke, Mandan resident.
The sales tax rebate would give $10,000 back to a restaurant for every $1 million in annual sales.
The Growth Fund Committee says the community needs to act to bring additional dining options to Mandan.
"So the do nothing approach could mean that we see them continue to bypass us on I-94 or come in and out of the community without investing or putting further dollars into our community," said Mandan Business Development and Communications Director, Ellen Huber.
"But the big thing is that they aren't staying our hotels. The big reason they're not staying at our hotel is because there's no place to eat," said Huber.
The proposal calls for an initial one year period for the restaurant rewards program.
The city commission approved the incentive program tonight.