Mayor announces return of popular Commercial Façade Grant Program

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Press release from the City of Fort Wayne:

Mayor announces return of popular Commercial Façade Grant Program
Funding helps strengthen businesses, spruce up commercial corridors

(November 4, 2010) – Underscoring his commitment to Fort Wayne’s economic growth, Mayor Tom Henry announced today that the City of Fort Wayne will again make grant funding available to property owners who want to enhance the appearance of their businesses. Beginning November 12, Fort Wayne is accepting applications for the 2011 Commercial Façade Grant (CFG) program. The Mayor’s announcement was made in front of stores on Broadway and Taylor streets where businesses were previously awarded grants.

“Our commercial corridors are our neighborhood Main Streets,” said Mayor Henry. “Their vibrancy helps to keep nearby neighborhoods healthy. Even before taking office, I made a promise to our small business community that we would work together to strengthen their ability to succeed. The Commercial Façade Grant program is a promise kept.”

The CFG has grown in popularity since its inception three years ago. The program, initiated by Mayor Tom Henry’s administration, is designed to assist business owners making improvements to the exterior of their commercial properties using a combination of public and private funding.

“I would like to thank the 2010 CFG for giving me the opportunity to make substantial improvements to the exterior of my property located at 1753 West Main Street,” said Pam Michel of Pam Michel Design Services. “These improvements will not only enhance my place of business but will also enhance the surrounding neighborhood.”

The program makes funds available to businesses along many of the city’s more highly traveled roads, or corridors. The areas have been designated as Economic Development Target Areas (EDTAs) by Fort Wayne City Council. Through the program, grants are made to businesses to help offset the costs of façade renovations, signage, lighting, awnings, parking improvements, decorative fencing, and other enhancements owners want to make to their property.

“An upgrade to a storefront sends a welcoming message to customers and a powerful signal to other businesses looking for great places to locate,” said Mayor Henry. “Through the program, we identify areas of Fort Wayne that could benefit from a lift and then work with business owners to take action. Renovated exteriors not only help to maintain our beautiful city, but also help to attract new businesses and sustain those already investing in Fort Wayne’s workforce and economy.”

“The Commercial Façade Grants exemplify how local government and businesses can partner to improve our city,” said Mayor Henry. “The key is listening to the needs of our business owners and finding ways to help them succeed. Together, my staff and I are doing everything we can to make Fort Wayne a place where good jobs can grow, businesses can prosper and families can thrive.”

Blaine Stuckey, owner of Mad Anthony Brewery at the corner of Broadway and Taylor Street, said the program enabled him to transform the appearance of an entire intersection at a visible location near downtown. “The program gave us the boost to make the exterior of our business as hip and inviting as we made the interior,” Stuckey said.

“We love this location and want to continue to be an anchor in the neighborhood. This program allowed us to make even more of a financial commitment to reflect our personal commitment. I’ve already heard comments from residents about how much better the Broadway corridor looks, and the Mayor’s grant program is certainly part of the reason.”

Chris Rongos, owner of George’s International Grocery, says the program’s benefits extend far beyond just the businesses receiving grant money. “The Commercial Façade Grant program has not only been a benefit to my business, but to the neighborhood as well,” said Rongos. “The participation of several property owners in the area has helped to identify and beautify the Broadway Corridor. The CFG program has allowed me to attract additional investment, which will further strengthen the neighborhood.”

Rongos said he is currently working with Subway, which is in the process of building a free-standing restaurant on his property.

“The Broadway Corridor is just one of the business areas I’ve walked in my three years as Mayor. Many of the Commercial Façade Grant applications began as conversations with employers and employees in some of these very stores,” said Mayor Henry.

The average matching amount of the grant is again expected to be approximately $20,000, but larger projects may qualify for a greater amount of assistance, the Mayor said.

Administered through the City’s Redevelopment Department, the grant applications will be available from November 12 to December 17, 2010, both in the Redevelopment offices in the City-County Building and online at Property and business owners who meet certain criteria will be able to apply for funds that will likely help them meet spring construction timelines.

Businesses with questions or wanting more information may call Julie Sanchez at 427-2147. A map of EDTAs is available on the City’s website.

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