Some Janesville businesses will likely be showing off improvements soon.

On June 24, the Janesville Economic Development Authority awarded 22 grants to local businesses. A total of over $56,000 was awarded in these grants that will go toward improvements for local organizations.

“The main focus is to just make improvements to Main Street, make things look nice,” City Administrator Clinton Rogers said.

Janesville has operated a Storefront Enhancement Program for four years now. This year, the EDA saw the most applicants yet apply for the grant money. Rogers gave a special thanks in a press release to “Janesville Matters” for assisting local businesses with their applications.

Gidgets received one of the 22 grants awarded.

“I’m really excited about it, because I don’t own the building, I rent it, and we’ve been working together, and (the building owner) is the one who submitted (the application),” Gidgets business owner Bridget Gehring said. “I asked him what he was planning on doing and through him, he got the application in, and now we’re full speed ahead. He’s been great working with me and I think he’s excited to make the front look good too. I was very excited to start on the project that we have applied for; it was an exciting and a step in the right direction.”

Gidgets will be using the grant money to put new window awnings on the building, paint the front and add window boxes.

“We applied, because that was going to make the storefront look the way I wanted it to and spruce it up a bit,” Gehring said. “I mean, without (the grant), I don’t think we would be able to do what we’re doing and make it look nice.”

In order to apply for the EDA Storefront Enhancement Program, each business had some requirements to meet.

Properties must be retail/commercial business properties located within the city boundaries of Janesville. The applicant must not have started or completed work on the proposed project, though phase work is permitted. Proposed improvements must comply with the Minnesota State Building Code for rehabilitation work and proper building permits acquired.

Eligible improvements include exterior changes — some of them could be windows/doors, painting, outside lighting, landscaping or awnings but this list could be expanded upon. Ineligible improvements include refinancing prior debt, working capital, inventory finance and improvements that are removable.

All of the work must be completed within 180 days of notification of the grant.

Eligible program costs of the businesses that applied totaled almost $155,000 and the EDA was able to grant a third of that cost.

The two types of grants were Storefront Enhancement Grant and a Commercial Building Demolition Grant that both would give 50 percent of the project cost with a maximum of $5,000.

“It’s nice that Main Street’s going to make these improvements, people may want to shop more; they may want to stop at a place and check it out …” Rogers said.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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