The Gainesville Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) has big plans for helping businesses in the city.

The GEDC is rolling out the Business Improvement Grant (BIG) Program to increase interest and investment into existing buildings and to recruit new businesses in Gainesville. The façade grants will go to building/business owners to make exterior improvements downtown. (CA) of Gainesville.

The Gainesville City Council included $75,000 in the GEDC’s budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 for the BIG Program.

“We are excited to be able to offer this program to spur even more attention and growth in the Downtown Gainesville market. A tremendous amount of work has already been done by local businesses and building owners, and the GEDC wants to see this continue,” said Audrey Schroyer, Executive Director of the GEDC.

A business owner may receive financial assistance from the BIG Program for one building per fiscal year (Oct. 1-Sept. 30). Financial assistance will be reviewed, approved and awarded at the sole discretion of the GEDC Board of Directors. Funding will be disbursed as reimbursements after the applicants submit paid receipts for the work and a certificate of occupancy for commercial use.

Grants are available for up to 50% reimbursement with a maximum reimbursement of $7,500. Projects must meet a minimum of $2,500 to qualify (i.e., the project total is $2,500 and the BIG Program reimbursement would equal $1,250). Grants may not be used for the refinance of existing loans, working capital or for purchase of inventory or interior projects. Grant applicants must secure their end before applying to the program.

Other features of the program include:

* All projects shall be completed by licensed local contractors comply with all applicable building codes. Out of town contractors shall only be considered if the project applied for financial assistance cannot be completed by local contractors. Project owners and/or contractors shall acquire all necessary permits; grant proceeds may not be used for permitting costs.

* Eligible improvements include complete façade rehabilitation; replacement of window panes, window frames, broken storefront glass, and doors; exterior treatments such as brick, tile, stucco, stone, wood or siding; exterior signing; canopies or window awnings or window treatments such as tint; addition or replacement of ADA compliant entry-ways/access; restoration of historic or significant architectural features; and roof repair.

* The application will be reviewed and granted within 30 days from presentation and is at the sole discretion of the GEDC Board of Directors. Approval is not guaranteed. Should the application be rejected, the GEDC Board of Directors may suggest changes or improvements. If the applicant complies with the changes, the grant application can be reconsidered at the next meeting.

Applications will be available on the GEDC website starting Oct. 1, as well as in paper format to be picked up at the Gainesville Civic Center at 311 S Weaver St.

Information is available at www.GainesvilleEDC.com/About-GEDC/BIG-Program. Any questions should be directed to BIGProgram@cogtx.org or by calling (940) 665-5241.

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