City-owned equipment available to use

Tents, banquet tables and chairs, message boards, even a public address system, are available for emerging Marietta businesses and entrepreneurs, as well as for events at Marietta’s Armory Square, thanks to $99,000 worth of equipment the city purchased last fall.

“The items were purchased through a USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant for which the previous city administration had applied. And the spirit of that grant was to provide items that could help small emerging businesses take off,” said Marietta development director Andy Coleman.

The city became eligible for the grant through the Armory Square renovation project as the current business plan for the facility includes providing “incubator space” to help local small businesses get off the ground. In addition, items purchased with the grant may be used during community events held on the armory property.

Coleman said new businesses could use the equipment, for example, to set up displays of wares or to put on events that may help introduce a business to the local community.

The first firm to make use of the new equipment was the Original Pizza Place that established its first Marietta restaurant on Second Street last fall.

Marketing manager Kasandra Ruscitto said the furnishings were leased by the pizza business for the Original Pizza Place’s Man vs. Pizza Charity Challenge last month. The event garnered $500 for a local charity.

“We were able to allocate that money to a charity instead of having to use a good portion of it for tables and chairs for the event,” she said. “It’s really nice that the city is able to help with events that benefit the community.”

Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, who chairs city council’s lands, buildings and parks committee, noted new businesses and other organizations within the city must pay a fee to lease the equipment, but it’s a relatively small amount.

“They still have to pay something,” he said. “But it’s much less than renting from another entity. We’re just trying to facilitate these volunteer groups’ fundraising activities so they can have more money to benefit the community.”

Coleman added that, by the terms of the Rural Business Enterprise Grant, the city cannot make a profit from leasing the equipment.

“The proceeds are placed into an account that will be used to replace any pieces of equipment that may be damaged or broken,” he said.

Fees for the items are determined by size, Coleman said. Small pieces, like chairs and sandwich signs, go for $1 per item for each event. Medium sized items like metal trash cans and smoking receptacles are $3 per item per event, and larger equipment, including tents, tables, handwashing stations, and public address system, cost $5 per item for individual events.

The equipment purchased also includes permanent metal picnic tables, benches and bike racks that will be installed on the Armory Square grounds.

Items that can be leased include 12 tents, 68 banquet tables, 400 chairs, 18 trash receptacles, 10 recycling containers, two handwashing stations and one 100-watt public address system.

Storage carts and trailers for the equipment have also been purchased with the grant funds.

Coleman said the city has to file regular reports with the USDA on the use of the equipment as well as financial information on how any revenue is being used.

“There are tons of festivals and other events that take place within the city, and we want to make this equipment available to organizations that provide these events for the community,” Noland said.