Minneapolis council panel rejects Midtown Global Market subsidy

A Minneapolis City Council committee has turned down a $185,000 subsidy for the Midtown Global Market requested by outgoing Mayor R.T. Rybak, arguing the facility should have to apply for the funds through a competitive grant process.

Rybak says the market deserves city support, because it’s revitalized an economically challenged part of Lake Street.

“It’s wonderful to debate policy here, and it’s important to do that, but we have one of the best resources that this city has ever had in a neighborhood where, when I came into office, there was bat dung covering that building,” he said. “I don’t want to see any more bat dung in a building that is now a landmark that people from all over the city come and see.”

But council member Gary Schiff, who represents the neighborhood where the market is located, says it shouldn’t get special treatment.

“The important thing is to have a process where these are vetted against other competing requests from other markets around the city, and other economic development priorities we have,” Schiff said. “I just don’t want to break our budget policies right now of doing an earmark through budget process through doing an earmark for one particular entity even if it is in my back yard.”

The Council Committee on Ways & Means/Budget voted to reallocate most of the money to an economic development program that supports small businesses. The Midtown Global Market could apply for funds from that program.

The council is also considering two other potential ways to support the popular, but financially-strapped market. A committee next week will discuss whether to forgive a $1.1 million dollar loan to the market and whether to help pay for patron parking.