DALLAS (CBS11) – Visit the State Fair, or any event at Fair Park, and you’ll find yourself in South Dallas.
“This part of the city needs small business,” said council member Kevin Felder, whose district encompasses Fair Park.
The fund designed to boost economic development in the area, though, hasn’t done in its job, he says.
“At the end of the day, it hurts the community. It hurts the community,” said Felder.
The South Dallas-Fair Park Trust Fund was supposed to collect money based on every person who walked into Fair Park, but the formula devised was so complicated it was never implemented.
The fund’s staff says its purpose has changed over the years, its guidelines sometimes contradict each other, and several changes promised after an audit three years ago were never made.
Over almost 30 years, the fund has overseen just over $1.3 million in loans, but given away almost twice as much $2.5 million in grants.
“We’re now just giving away grants. I mean, this is not a philanthropic organization,” said Felder.
The council member says he’s fighting to put the fund back on track to fostering needed growth.
“That’s the purpose of this fund – to bank unbankable loans. We’re giving them a hand up not a hand out,” he said.
A little more than half of the board’s members have been appointed in just the last year and a new director will soon take over.
Felder warns some fellow council members are ready to pull the plug on the program, but he expects changes to be in place within six months.