Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Kimball Incentives: Your Building Is The Face Of Your Business

For over a decade the City of Kimball has had a program to assist local businesses with fixing a variety of projects on the outside of their building. Those that used the program prior to 2017 would refer to the program as Main Street Improvement Grant. In 2017, we changed the name to Business Façade Grant because we had heard from a variety of individuals that they assumed because of the name it was only to be used for businesses on our Main Street. With that said, we decided to change the name to Business Façade Grant in hopes of appealing to more businesses in Kimball.

During the past two years we had made some small changes to the program in order to incentivize some more building repairs. But in May 2019, the City Council made some very big changes to the program. The first change was allowing parking lots and sidewalks as an eligible project. Since this passed we have had several local businesses take advantage of this program and either add a parking lot or repair their parking lot. Council also added website design or ecommerce to the activities. This was added after the decision was made that to some businesses their “façade” may possibly be a website or an eCommerce page. Although we haven’t had anyone use this yet, we are hoping that any local businesses that may need assistance with creating a website or an eCommerce store will come and talk with us.

The biggest change to the program is the amount of the grant. In the past, the grant was a 50/50 match with the city paying up to $4,000. After reviewing the grant applications that have come in over the past couple years and talking with several businesses in town that had larger projects it was decided it was time to make some substantial changes to the funds. The decision was made at that May meeting that we would remove the $4,000 cap and allow projects to be turned in with funding on a case-by-case basis. There are several buildings that are vacant at this time but the cost of repairs to anyone wanting to buy are so large that it dissuades buyers. We want to make sure we are helping local businesses as well as offering incentives to those interested in purchasing buildings.

After dropping the $4,000 cap it was proposed that we really try to push the program so that our local and regional contractors are being utilized while also maybe attracting contractors with areas of expertise we don’t already have or possibly need more of. With that said Council changed to program match amounts. Going forward, if you use a contractor within a 25 mile radius we will fund 70% of the project. Using a regional contractor located within any of the 11 counties of the Panhandle we will fund 60% of the project. If you use outside of the Panhandle we will fund 50%. This would also apply to supplies. If you are doing a project by yourself you are allowed to claim up to $500 in labor for yourself, family, and friends. If you purchase your supplied at Hometown Hardware, we will pay 70% for the supplies you purchased locally.

Grants for the outside can be turned in for the following activities: Parking lots and sidewalks, windows, exterior doors, brick and brick repair, paint, awnings, signage, lighting, gutters, chimneys, roofs, siding, permanent landscaping, and now websites and eCommerce sites.

Applying for the grant is simple. You can find the application at the http://www.kimballne.org/index/businessresources/business_facade_grant.php or by stopping in the front office at the City. Payment will not be issued until the work is complete. Many people apply prior to the project being completed because they want assurance that their grant is approved. You can apply with quotes but please note that you will only be reimbursed once the project is done and we will only grant for what was originally requested if you submit before the project is complete. Or you can apply after the project which will insure you are getting the max amount of the project costs as we all know many projects run into hiccups. If you have questions about the program, please call me at the city office.

Our process is simple, turn in your applications with invoices by the first week of the month. On the 2nd Tuesday of each month, the committee will review and recommend to council. The 3rd Tuesday of the every month is when City Council meets. At that meeting they will approve any grants that had been turned in and recommended. Once we have approval from council we can move forward with a check request. Although we like it when businesses can attend those Council meetings, I am always there to represent the businesses if you are unable to.

Next week we will focus on the Business Infrastructure Grant and how you can move forward with projects on the inside of your building.

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