New signs to bid welcome to Salem

SALEM- The welcoming signs in Salem will be replaced, with some input from the community.

City Council’s Committee of the Whole Tuesday night agreed to match dollar for dollar up to $21,000 the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce’s contribution in replacing the four welcoming signs at city limits. The money will come equally from each council member’s contingency fund. The chamber will also solicit funding for the project through grants and donations.

The project is an attempt to increase curb appeal in the city, according to Audrey Null, executive director for the chamber.

The current signs were erected in a collaborative effort between the chamber, city council and the Salem Community Foundation 15 years ago as chain-link fences with community organizations posted on them. Null proposed more updated, permanent signs to replace the current ones.

Null said the chamber will form a committee to develop and manage a design contest for the signs and to work with the city in every aspect including zoning and placement of the signs.

Cost for the signs is tentatively estimated at $12,000 to $14,000 per sign, based on those in other communities, Null said. The chamber currently has $10,000 from a Christmas raffle to put toward the project, and the raffle will be held again this year. She estimated two signs, plus the cost of landscaping and promoting the design contest, will cost $27,700, but noted that the cost cannot be determined until a final design is selected.

The committee agreed to revisit the issue if the $21,000 is not enough.

Also at the meeting, Sustainable Opportunity Development Center Executive Director Larry Kosiba offered an update on Project SEED BASE, a web-based data system aimed at improving the city’s business attraction environment.

Currently the project is about 60 percent complete and is expected to finished by February, Kosiba said. The system is available online, linked to pages such as the city hall’s and the chamber’s, and provides various information pertaining to small business and industry that is automatically updated because it pulls from databases into which organizations such as the chamber input their information.