Businesses take part in town stimulus plan | May 1, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - May 1, 2009

Businesses take part in town stimulus plan

Applications from 28 businesses received in first week

by Geoff Gillette

Attempts by the Town of Danville to stimulate the downtown economy through a grant program are already beginning to bear fruit. That was the word at the April 21 Town Council meeting where officials announced more than two dozen applications had been filed as part of the Retail Incentive Program.

Transportation Services Director Tai Williams, one of the two architects of the retail stimulus plan, reported to the Town Council that they received 22 applications on April 10, the first day they could be filed. In the following days, another six came in. Williams said that all 28 of the applications have already been examined, approved and processed.

"We expected this to be a very quick and expedited process," she said. "We approved them the week of the 13th and we are hoping that they are getting started right away."

Of the grant requests, Williams said 16 were from businesses looking for retail marketing assistance.

"The applications ask for a one-on-one marketing consultation with a marketing professional as well as funds to implement those marketing suggestions," she explained.

Eleven are for façade consultation and improvements. Williams said they have put those applicants in touch with architects who will work on designs for façade improvements.

The Town has received an application from Discover Danville as well, a request for assistance in creating a cooperative marketing vehicle for the members of Discover Danville. The group is looking at creating a catalogue for the holiday shopping season.

One of the caveats of the retail incentive plan is that the design and marketing work must be done by businesses in Danville. Williams said that construction should be Danville-based businesses as well, but if the Danville-based bid is not within 10 percent of the low bid on the project, the grant recipient can hire outside the town.

"We want the retailers to use Danville businesses to keep the grant money circulating in Danville," Williams explained. "We want this to have a rippling effect on our own economy."

The maximum amount any applicant can receive from the town is $7,500. Williams said these are also meant to be matching funds.

"We put in half, they put in half," she stated. "That way we have buy-in on the process from the grantees."

So far, the town has provided $123,000 in grants to the 28 applicants. Town Council members set aside $400,000 in Community Development funds for the program.

Williams said she is hopeful that seeing how quickly the grants were processed and the ease of the application process will entice other businesses to come forward and take part in the stimulus program.