Mayor Rudy Wright, Councilman David Zagaroli, Councilman Hank Guess, Interim City Manager Andrea Surratt, and Governmental Affairs Manager, Yaidee Fox traveled to Washington D.C. for a day trip on Thursday, March 23.
It was, of course, a bustling day in the District, with the Supreme Court nominee hearing in the Senate and the healthcare bill debate in the House. Each of the legislative offices were extremely accommodating, although a scheduling conflict prevented a meeting with Rep. Patrick McHenry's office. The group met with staff of Rep. Virginia Foxx's office, as well as staff from Sen. Burr's and Sen. Tillis' offices. Timing was such that the group was able to meet with Sen. Tillis and he was happy to show off his office furniture, which is on loan from Century Furniture of Hickory. Additionally, the group met with the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Director and Deputy Director of Infrastructure, Finance, and Innovation.
These meetings gave City Council and Staff the opportunity to share the Crafting Hickory message of revitalization and details of upcoming projects, such as the City Walk and Riverwalk. They discussed federal funding opportunities, like the highly sought after USDOT TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant.
City Council and Staff learned that, due to budget uncertainties, the TIGER grant funds are in flux and it may be late April before there is a determination on the availability of funds and possibly summertime before the program is officially announced and accepting applications. While the city is looking for multiple grants and funding opportunities, the awarding of a TIGER grant could go long way in offsetting the cost of the City Walk project.
"We received feedback from DOT officials on our previous requests for 2015 and 2016, including suggestions that would improve the appeal of our grant documents," explained Mayor Rudy Wright. "We were also encouraged by the strong commitments of our Washington elected officials to support our request that will be presented to the new DOT leadership. We believe there is an excellent chance the TIGER grant will survive budget cuts and I've never been more optimistic about our chances of being awarded a grant."