New grants available to help downtown businesses make improvemen - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

New grants available to help downtown businesses make improvements

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Businesses downtown could get a boost to help make improvements to stores. Downtown Eau Claire Incorporated began offering grants at the beginning of the New Year to downtown businesses. They hope the grants help businesses make repairs or add on.

"The program's really geared towards doing something special downtown that might not have gotten done without the funds," said Mike Schatz, Eau Claire's Economic Development Director.

New grants could soon help spruce up Eau Claire's downtown districts.

"We're looking for something that really will last the test of time and can be visual for many years. Something lasting like bricks and mortar, or a monument sign," Schatz said.

For the first time in its history, Downtown Eau Claire Incorporated will be offering a total of $35,000 in grants to downtown businesses that are looking to make improvements.

"We've tried to limit it to about a maximum of five thousand dollars per project so that we could at least spread it out to at least 7 different projects if they took the maximum amount," said Schatz.

Area businesses say they there are a few things they could use the cash for.

"Anytime we have funds we could use to make buildings more attractive, raise property values, make storefronts more attractive to customers, I think that's always a good thing. The one to five thousand dollars the grant would provide would certainly give me the opportunity to address things like cracks in some of the decorative glass in my storefront, some of the signage. I'm located right on the Chippewa River Trail, so we could put a little signage out behind our store," said Eric Johnson, owner of Anybody's Bikeshop on Water Street.

The Children's Museum of Eau Claire has already applied for one of the grants, and plans to use the money to make some repairs.

"We've got a front facade on our building, which includes a canopy that adds some nice protection to the sidewalk and to pedestrians. And it's currently leaking, so the grant would be perfect for us to make those repairs and get the canopy in good shape again," said Darcy Way, Executive Director of the Children's Museum of Eau Claire.

D.E.C.I. will decide which businesses get the money, which will be given out on a first come, first serve basis. The grants will be available until 2015 or until all funds are used. Businesses must be located within the downtown as defined by the city's comprehensive plan. After applying, members of D.E.C.I. will review the information and make a final decision.

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