City of Appleton offering business enhancement grants

Downtown Appleton on January 30, 2018 (WLUK/Mike Moon)

APPLETON (WLUK) -- There is a new effort to spruce up some downtown Appleton businesses.

The city has more than $40,000 to pay for small improvement projects.

As co-owner of Crazy Sweet in downtown Appleton, Mary Kelley knows the importance of an attractive store front.

"Livens everything up, everything looks neat and clean, very appealing for a lot of people," she told FOX 11 News Tuesday.

To help liven up downtown in general, the city is offering grants to businesses in these two tax increment finance districts. $21,000 for each district.

: "For a total of six business enhancement grants up to $7,000, matching 50%," explained Karen Harkness, the city's director of Community and Economic Development.

The business owner would have to match 50% of the project cost.

The goal is to support those little projects that have a big impact on small businesses.

"Roof replacement, tuck pointing, painting a building, improving your parking lot, replacing windows, replacing doors," Harkness described.

Kelley's landlord, for example, is considering applying for a grant for something artistic.

"She has thoughts of, maybe, some type of mural," she told us.

And Appleton Downtown Incorporated offers facade improvement grants for businesses. So those businesses can use that grant to county as 25% of that 50% match.

"A lot of the same factors that are included in the business enhancement grant from the city are also part of our program as well. They really do marry each other and partner with each other quite well," explained Jennifer Stephany, the executive director of Appleton Downtown Incorporated.

The idea is that several small improvements here and there will add up to a more vibrant, inviting downtown.

"We're really excited about what it's going to bring to downtown in terms of new, small-scale redevelopment and, hopefully, some bigger projects too," Stephany told us.

"It's all geared toward that goal," said Harkness.

"If we all look good then we're all helping each other," added Kelley.

The city is taking applications right now. Applicants will need to describe their project, how it will be paid for and when it would be done.

For more information about the grants from the city, you can visit the website here.

For more information about Appleton Downtown Incorporated you can visit that website here.

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