We are excited to have received a space from the Bank of Pontiac that will allow us to focus our efforts on a small business incubator. This has been on our wish list for some time. We have increased our budget in Operations and Maintenance to allow for increase building related costs.
The Business Development, Expansion, and Retention category sees the same budget as last year. While our Director of Economic Development will be cutting back hours due to a new role, we will be adding additional staff at the incubator. Between the two, we will have the appropriate skill-sets to meet the needs of recruiting small and large businesses.
We continue to focus heavily on events that drive tourism dollars to our businesses and promote Dwight, IL as a great place to live and visit.
We continue to search for revenue mix that is optimum for the community. Our organization, as well as those that joined to form the Dwight Economic Alliance have relied heavily on donations from local businesses as well as financial support from the Village of Dwight to support operations. We are budgeting for increased business membership in 2020 and will focus on increasing individual memberships as we raise awareness for the things we do to benefit the community. We need everyone to be all in.
Our focus on events is less about generating income for our organization and more about giving back to the community. They use an enormous amount of our volunteer hours, but we believe that they have a positive financial impact to the community, and we will be monitoring that impact in 2020 to determine where our efforts are best focused. We also expect to qualify for some grants related to the small business incubator but have not budgeted for any receipts this year.
We have a small amount of money, relative to our budget, set aside for different purposes. Over $26,000 is set aside for improvements and maintenance of the Depot and surrounding landscaping. We have around $4,000 in a fund that will continue to fund the drug dog program when it is in need, and we have roughly $500 remaining in private grant to help fund the ongoing community fireworks. We also have money previously raised for banners downtown that will be spent when the construction project is complete, and we have a place to hang them.
While we are nowhere near it today, our goal is to have 25% of our operating budget in reserves for general use by 2025. This will allow us to ensure that we can continue to operate in budget shortfalls as well as be ready to act on matching grants that help fulfill our mission. Today that reserve is around $4,000. Even in tight budget situations, the urge is to spend all you have to further the cause, but we have to weigh that against the long-term viability of the organization.
If money were no object, our mission might be complete. However, we must balance our opportunities with our funds. Being responsible financially often means pushing projects out until the funds are available and the timing is right. Our unfunded budget list includes many approaches to marketing our community and mission to a broader audience. A budget to market Dwight’s biggest events to a wider audience would help showcase our town at its best moments to those that are looking to visit and move. We would also like to brand Dwight in a way that shows that we are unified as a community and open for business and new families.
Our business incubator is not fully funded as it sits right now. Running a successful business incubator would require full time staff that has the time and ability to market the incubator itself, recruit new businesses, provide content and advice, as well as maintain a large network. There will also be many opportunities for upgrades to the facility as we learn what businesses work.
We have more opportunities to leverage Route 66 for tourism in our community. We had over 11,000 visitors take the time to sign into the Becker Ambler Station last summer alone. They come from all over the world to travel the Mother Road and cross right thru our front yard on their journey. We need to find ways to get them to spend time in Dwight, IL. If only for thirty minutes.