Nonprofit center, what next?

by April Scheinoha

    The collaboration is continuing for local nonprofit organizations interested in a potential nonprofit center to serve Thief River Falls and the surrounding area.
    About 35 people, including those from other groups, gathered Friday, April 28 at Ralph Engelstad Arena to brainstorm the next steps.
    A nonprofit center could be a facility or a suite in an office. The common tie between nonprofit centers, regardless of size, is that they exist to bring nonprofit organizations together to achieve a goal or mission.
    Inter-County Community Council and the Northwest Private Industry Council are spearheading the effort for the nonprofit center with hopes for occupancy in 2019. They worked with the Nonprofit Centers Network on the proposal.
    ICCC Executive Director Catherine Johnson said 10 nonprofit organizations are interested in full-time tenancy at the center. Additional organizations are interested in part-time or occasional use of the building.
    “Everybody’s timeline for this project was two months ago and some further back,” said Johnson. “Many of these organizations have been looking for space for quite some time.”
    Three options were presented to the group:
    • Renting 20,000 square feet within a 45,000-square-foot redevelopment project
    • Purchasing a 37,000-square-foot existing building
    • Renting 22,000 square feet of the building listed in Option 2
    With regard to Option 1, Johnson indicated that one of the potential tenants would be excluded due to a conflict of interest. Option 2 was determined to not be financially feasible.
    It has also been suggested that a food pantry, cafe or other public food space should be included to increase foot traffic and serve as a neutral entry point to the building, Johnson said.
    Johnson added that the next steps would be to sign a contract with a part-time project manager for the pre-development phase. That phase is expected to take six months to one year. The group also needs to finalize agreements with the proposed tenants as well as work on fundraising, design and construction, among other things.