Applications now available; information session on April 5
The Niagara County Center for Economic Development announced the launch of the new Niagara County Façade Program (NCFP). The NCFP will provide matching grants up to $50,000 for eligible businesses in order to rejuvenate their properties to help bring vibrancy to the central business districts in communities across the county. The county has allocated $3 million for the program through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
“In each community across the county, there is a central business district, with mainly small, local businesses, that serves as the commercial hub for that municipality,” said Niagara County Legislator Rich Andres, chairman of the Niagara County Economic Development Committee and architect of the NCFP. “This program is targeted to these commercial hubs for two reasons. First, these were often the small businesses that were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, that had to close when ‘big box’ retailers stayed open, and had to use any resources available to them just to stay afloat. This left them with little money for capital upgrades.
“Second, many of the commercial properties in these business districts hold tremendous potential to attract more consumers looking for a unique shopping experience, but need some capital investment to refresh the look and feel of the area. That’s where we hope the NCFP can step in.”
Andres said the NCFP will provide dollar-for-dollar matching funds up to $50,000 to for-profit businesses, property owners or lessees who were already operational prior to 2020. These grants must be used for permanent improvements to the business and/or façade, such as signage, siding, exterior paint, roofing, windows and doors, stairs and ramps, walkways, decking, awnings, exterior lighting. The project must be located within a well-defined business district, and must be able to demonstrate support from a local elected official that the project will have a beneficial impact to, and is consistent with, community development plans for the business district.
“We are very excited about the NCFP and believe there will be tremendous interest in the project, so we intend to hold a virtual information session at 6 p.m. April 5 that will allow for those interested to learn more about the program and what we hope to accomplish,” Andres said. “Plus, our Center for Economic Development team is always available to answer questions throughout this process.”
Andres said the deadline for submitting an application is May 6. An overview of the program and applications can be found at https://www.niagaracountybusiness.com/facade-program. To register for the virtual seminar, visit https://tinyurl.com/5n6n624b.