MINOT, N.D. (KXNET) — Minot’s Magic Fund has helped nearly 250 businesses since taxpayers voted it into existence in 1990. And nearly $7.8 million are sitting in the MAGIC Fund right now.

All are funded by 1% of taxpayers’ sales tax spent in Minot, which has been put away to benefit businesses in our area. But there are stipulations to receiving funds.

“We want to put the money to work, but we also want to put it to work in a way that the community as a whole agrees is a proper investment for economic development,” said Harold Stewart, the city manager for Minot.

And MAGIC Fund entities recently awarded a business that they say is a prime example of a company that should be awarded magic fund money.

“For example, there’s a bank of North Dakota program that we just supported an application for AGT foods. And so that’s a huge win, it has a maximum capacity of $260,000, and we recommended it and it made it through all three steps. And so right now they are in the process of finalizing that agreement with the city,” said Brekka Kramer, CEO and president of the Minot Chamber EDC.

They check many boxes of the requirements like expanding the business, great financial responsibility, bringing benefits to the area, and more.

AGT Foods was awarded around $260,000 by the Minot City Council, the Chamber EDC, and the MAGIC Fund screening committee. With that money, they have taken over the former Food Services of America Facility, and plan to extend its extrusion operations into the building.

Stewart said, “AGT is here, established, successful, growing. So, the MAGIC Fund is a perfect tool to help AGT continue to grow here in Minot as opposed to growing and relocating somewhere else and letting another community benefit from all that growth.”

On the other hand, Trinity Hospital’s request for $3 million for their new emergency trauma center is more controversial. The City Council and Trinity Health officials have gone back and forth deciding on stipulations to receive magic fund money.

“We have still not yet received any official communication from Trinity Hospital with regard to the action the council took on the magic fund request. We’re waiting for a formal response from Trinity whether or not they need the loan from the MAGIC Fund as the council outlined,” said Stewart.

All entities involved in MAGIC Fund decision-making are currently laying out new guidelines for the MAGIC Fund.

“We’re relooking at how do we put that money to work. But also, as it gets put to work, how do we replenish that funding, so it’s there and available for future needs as well. And ultimately that’s what we’re trying to do with these magic fund guideline changes,” added Stewart.

Stewart says the changes will be under guidelines much like our state’s legacy fund.

“We will pattern it somewhat like the hub city funding that the state put in place with the Legacy Fund. Where we’ve identified specific categories. And then the funding mechanism helps make sure that there’s funding available for those categories. And to rebuild that funding if it actually gets used and spent down,” Stewart explained.

City Council members have also decided not to replenish the MAGIC Fund in 2023 due to the lack of use in recent years. They will be putting the money that would normally be put back into the MAGIC Fund, into finding signage and adding an economic development position within the city.

“In 2023, the City Council allocated enough of that percentage that there wasn’t anything left to be contributed to the MAGIC Fund. I think the main reason that was done was that I think the council saw the same challenge and issue of, we don’t need to keep adding money to the MAGIC Fund if it just keeps growing and it’s not being used,” explained Stewart.

With more investments in the last five years, the MAGIC Fund will continue to grow. However, all members involved do hope businesses in this city start taking full advantage of the money available to improve our area.

The new MAGIC Fund guidelines will be set by the end of December.