The City of Lacombe is once again accepting applications to the Downtown Storefront Enhancement Program to liven up the downtown core.
“The idea is actually present in a number of other communities that are trying to revitalize their downtown. The hope is that the municipalities can offer a little bit of an incentive to encourage people to brighten up their storefronts,” said Guy Lapointe, community economic development manager for the City of Lacombe.
The total amount of money reserved for the program is $4,000. Applicants are eligible for a 20% subsidy of their total renovation costs, up to $2,000. Lapointe said that so far, only one application has been brought forward but he hopes to see the program flourish this year.
“Last year, we didn’t spend all the money. We had enough projects committed that would have used the money, but a couple pulled out last minute. It was kind of rushed last year but we’re trying to do it in advance this year and give people some time to be better prepared,” he said.
“At the moment, we have the application deadline of March 31st. Of course, if we don’t have enough applications at that point, we will leave the program open and do it on a first-come, first-serve basis.”
Last year most of the funds were allocated to businesses that were doing signage improvements. Eligible improvements include lighting, exterior walls, windows, doors, paint, signage, awnings and canopies, landscaping and entranceways. Along with these options, there are a variety of other improvements that would qualify under the program.
Applications are to be sent to Lapointe and then will be reviewed by a third party in April. Only stores in the Old Town Main Street District are eligible for funding. Those who applied for the program or utilized funds last year may re-apply if they have a secondary project. For people who are interested in applying for a loan through Community Futures East Parkland should indicate this on the Downtown Storefront Enhancement Program application.
“The one thing that we heard from feedback last year was people who didn’t own their building were concerned about why they would want to take part in this. You can do an improvement to your building with the permission of your landlord. It doesn’t have to be extensive,” Lapointe said.
“We did a lot of signage projects last year where we took the more historic signage and re-did those. You don’t have to be an owner of the building to be involved in the program. It might be things like painting – maybe you have a vision that differs from your landlord and if you can get permission, we just need to see that as part of the application process and then you can go ahead and do that if you’d like. Really, the sky is the limit for this.”
Specific guidelines on the application process, as well as additional information on the program are available on the Lacombe City web site, under the ‘Doing Business – Community Economic Development’ tab.