Says response to grant program has been overwhelming
The Niagara County Legislature has allocated an additional $2.2 million to the Niagara County façade program (NCFP), according to Legislator Rich Andres, chairman of the county’s economic development committee. The NCFP, which was announced in March with an initial $3 million in funding, will provide matching grants up to $50,000 for eligible businesses to rejuvenate their properties and help bring vibrancy to business districts in communities across the county.
“Applications for the NCFP were due May 6, and our Center for Economic Development was overwhelmed by the response – with more than 200 businesses from every corner of the Niagara County applying for grants,” Andres said. “The legislature recognized that the number of quality projects would exceed our initial funding allocation, so we decided to add more funding to the pot rather than have to reject some very worthwhile projects.
Niagara County Economic Development Commissioner Michael Casale said that, in his two-plus decades in economic development, this is by the far the largest response to a particular initiative.
“Coming out of the pandemic, it was clear that many of our small, local businesses had struggled to just stay open, and that they simply had little to no funding available for necessary capital improvements,” Casale said. “We designed the NCFP to address this issue and it clearly hit the mark.”
He noted evaluations of grant applications were still ongoing, but would be wrapping up over the next week, with award letters being sent to successful applicants around June 1.