Kim Robertson of West Bend walks along South Main Street
on Thursday afternoon near Collin's Deck Bar in West
Bend. Collin's Deck Bar was one of the downtown business
to take advantage of the Facade Improvement Grant for
John Ehlke/Daily News
Bend officials are preparing a process for assisting
business owners and retailers who want to update the
image they project to shoppers as they pass by.
façade grant provides financial assistance to businesses
located in the downtown that want to renovate and modify
their storefronts, giving them a different look that
will hopefully increase traffic and sales.
don’t know exactly how long it has been going on, but
the intent of the program was to provide matching grant
funds for business owners or property owners who are
interested in improving the outside appearances to their
buildings in the downtown,” said Kirk Emerich of the
West Bend Economic Development Corp., the organization
who oversees the program.
According to the program manual, only businesses located
within the improvement district are eligible for the
grant, and it further stipulates that funding is
provided for only a prescribed set of improvements.
manual includes store signage, the rehabilitation or
compatible reconstruction of storefronts, masonry repair
and repainting, as well as the restoration or
replacement of deteriorated or hazardous sidewalks.
There are also a set of minimum requirements, including
private investment. Applicants are required to
contribute a portion of the funding for the project.
applicant must leverage a minimum of 60 cents per dollar
per dollar of private funds for each 40 cents per dollar
of grant funds requested, with a $5,000 project maximum
invested by the Façade Grant Program,” the manual
renovations must also attempt to preserve and promote
the historical and architectural features of the
building. The renovations must begin within three months
of grant approval and be completed within a year.
fund has about $37,000 available for recipients and be
will be evaluated on the impact it will have for
improving the downtown area, the amount of money that
applicants are willing to contribute, the financial
implications it will have for the program and how it
will contribute to the community.
Moving forward, city officials will manage the program
from the Economic Development Corporation. Emerich wants
to transfer the program to members of Business
Improvement District to manage and oversee.
“They have the manpower to manage it,” he said. “I don’t
have any paid staff at the EDC.”
details regarding the program and how it operates
continues to evolve as West Bend staff are discussing
the implementation process once the grant is within
their control. There are any number of avenues officials
could pursue, from allowing Improvement District members
to control it to allowing it to become a city function
and allow Economic Development Manager Adam Gitter to
oversee the process.
my role, I manage the revolving loan fund, the downtown
block grant programs, all those things that deal with
giving businesses money is some way or another,” Gitter
said. “When it comes to incentives, I am the one who is
dealing with those things. If we (city officials) are
going to be the ones facilitating that money anyway, why
wouldn’t I also just take this over?”