ISHPEMING - The outside of a business can be just as important to attracting customers as what can be purchased on the inside. To help Ishpeming businesses improve their storefronts, the Ishpeming Downtown Development Authority is offering a facade grant improvement program.
The DDA has budgeted a total of $100,000 for grants under the program, which provide up to 50 percent of the improvement costs with the business owner providing the remaining half of the cost. There is no minimum or maximum award amount, with the total amount awarded being at the discretion of the DDA board.
According to DDA Chairman David Aeh, the program recently awarded its first grant to Dan and Sharon Perkins for a building located on the corner of First and Division streets.
The building at the corner of First and Division streets is the first to be awarded a facade improvement grant through the Ishpeming Downtown Development Authority. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
In order to be eligible for the program, the building must be located within the DDA district either on Main Street from Hematite Drive to Divison Street or on Division from the Greenwood Street intersection to Second Street.
Grant funding can be used to improve any of the building's facades - front, side or rear - that faces a public right of way, with greater weight given to buildings that front city streets.
Business owners applying for the grant program cannot use the grant funding to repay existing debt, purchase new property, improve the interior of the building or fund site plans or building permits.
Those who are interested in applying must meet with City Manager Jered Ottenwess prior to starting construction. At that meeting, applicants go over the program guidelines and requirements.
Starting construction before the grant award is approved could make the project ineligible for the funding.
In order to apply for the funding, the building owner must fill out a series of application forms and submit them for review, which is done on a rolling basis.
A full description of the program is available on the Ishpeming city website at www.ishpemingcity.org under the DDA tab.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.