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City Council emphasizes marketing funding for Alexandria’s ‘Hot Girl Summer’

City Council member John Chapman has the distinction, marked in the record, of being the first on the dais to use the phrase “hot girl summer” — and in the most unlikely of contexts.

Chapman’s millennial moment came through at the end of hours of public discussion on where the American Rescue Plan Act funding is going. No decision was reached at the City Council meeting this weekend — and final passage is scheduled for Tuesday, July 6 — but the City Council did indicate interest in emphasizing the city’s tourism and overall marketing in the funding package.

Chapman, who runs the Manumission Tour Company, said funding for tourism and marketing would be a bigger help sooner rather than later.

“Everyone is getting ready for hot girl summer,” Chapman said. “There is an energy about getting out. Everybody knows that. We’re going to try [to use that], but with tourism industry it’s tough. We have immediate need we’re trying to fill.”

“We’re trying to open up,” City Council member Amy Jackson said. “As soon as you tell everyone, ‘We’re open,’ and broadcast that, that will help create jobs. If we’re waiting and holding it back, [it’s] increasingly less likely that we’re helping the maximum number of people that we could be helping.”

Jackson also noted that many of the jobs helped by boosts in retail and service industry sales help the city’s lower-income populations.

“I want us to look at that more, not just in programs, but overall in bringing people here,” Jackson said.

Chapman said the city also needs to be aware that many industries are looking for funding both for front-end immediate needs created and longer-term fixes for big problems. It’s a distinction that Chapman said could help separate where funding should go in the first round.

“The idea that we’re giving out money in a couple of tranches seems too simplistic,” Chapman said. “There are organizations that can get half of their money in one phase and half in another phase. One organization may not need all of their money in one year or one tranche —  which leaves more room to move up initiatives and people that need more relief.”

City Manager Mark Jinks said the one concern to keep in mind is this mindset could lead to too many delays to the future for funding.

“The pro is you can do more,” Jinks said. “The downside is it’s kicking the can down the road. You’re saying ‘we’ll pay for that out of the next one.'”

The City Council will look at the first round of funding again on July 6, after which Mayor Justin Wilson said he hopes the word tranche — which came up frequently during the discussions — “Goes back into oblivion.”

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