City of White hopes renovation project will draw visitors, increase local appeal

In an effort to spur the local economy and draw more visitors, the city of White, SD recently began renovating the local community center and event hall. The McKnight Community Center, a fixture in the town since the 1970s, regularly hosts dances, concerts, weddings and city meetings, and is also home to the city finance office. Over time, however, the building has started to degrade and lose appeal.

“This building is truly the centerpiece of our community,” said White Finance Officer Melanie Haber. “We believe there is great potential for the facility to host more activities, but updates are necessary.”

Heartland recently awarded the city a $2,000 economic development grant to assist with the project.

“This project will allow for an increase in the number and variety of events hosted at the community center,” said Heartland Director of Economic Development Ryan Brown. “Heartland is proud to be part of a project that truly will bring the community together.”

The renovation began in November with an expected completion date of July, 2015. Planned updates include new lighting, installation of a portable stage, Wi-Fi and new handicap-accessible bathrooms. The city will also move the finance office to a different area of the building, allowing for its own entry and drop box.

“The hall currently hosts an average of nine events per month,” said Haber. “After the remodel, we would like to see that number increase to twelve, which equals 36 more events per year. Those extra events will not only increase profits for the White Community Club, which holds the liquor license for the hall, but also increase revenue for other local businesses, such as the gas station or cafe.”

Haber said the city will also be monitoring the amount of revenue received from rental fees to help measure the project’s success, but making money is not the main objective.

“We understand that by bringing people into our community and providing them with a friendly environment, we will entice them to return,” Haber said.

Heartland awards economic development grants to customers and their local development corporations to help fund projects that foster growth and development, promote economic prosperity, and improve the social and economic well-being of local residents. In addition to the economic development grant, Heartland also awarded the city of White an $800 energy efficiency grant to help purchase LED lights for the community center. Heartland awards energy efficiency grants to wholesale customers for projects that will improve energy efficiencies within the city. For more information on either grant program, visit www.hcpd.com.