She said grantees have six months from the date they accept the grant to complete the project, then the township will inspect the work to make sure it was done as specified in the application. The business owner must produce receipts and then they will be reimbursed.
“There’s less risk on the township end because we are going to see that they followed through on the design they said they were going to do, they’re putting in the cost that’s associated with what it’s going to cost,” she said. “And only then would we reimburse what the township’s committed to contribute.”
Some of the scoring criteria for the grant awards are location, job creation,, the impact on the neighborhood, cost and the amount the business plans to contribute to the project and design quality.
The grant program was first floated in July as part of a plan to revitalize the U.S. 42 corridor, at that time Assistant Administrator Lisa Brown outlined some ideas for making the corridor more vibrant and attractive such as sidewalks or bike paths, landscaping, signage and lighting and “removing the visual clutter” that is hiding the businesses.
Trustee Ann Becker told the Journal-News while the grants are township-wide — she can see the program benefiting businesses in the Cincinnati Dayton and Tylersville roads area and Olde West Chester too — U.S. 42 remains a priority.
“Location is going to be a big part of the distribution of the grants,” Becker said. “It is open to the entire township but there will be weight placed to our small business corridors.”
The trustees budget $250,000 annually for unspecified projects for the U.S. 42 corridor and this grant will be funded through that line item. Up until now not much has been spent out of that fund, largely because township officials have said the business owners haven’t been receptive to change.
Trustee Lee Wong could not be reached for comment but he did express skepticism previously about revitalizing that corridor saying he knows of at least four projects that were floated for that area that failed, including installing sidewalks along Dimmick Road.
Becker said this grant program will hopefully serve another purpose.
“Part of the reason we’re doing this program is to help small businesses but it’s also to reach out to our small business community and build that element of trust that we’re serious about helping, making improvements and build a dialogue,” she said. “Hopefully they see that we’re working for them and interested in improving the Pisgah/42 area, that’s one of our top priorities.”
Trustee Mark Welch had some misgivings about the program at the start because “it kind of smacks of picking winners and losers.” He has warmed to the idea, as long as it is fair.
“As long as we don’t make it for specific areas, as long as we don’t make the application too narrow but we open it up to all those businesses that qualify under 30 employees, then I’m okay with it,” he said. “I just didn’t want it to be something so specific that it’s like you’re excluding all these other businesses. That’s not fair.”
The applications will be available online beginning Dec. 1 and the first awards will be announced in March. If money is still available a second round of applications will be accepted starting April 1 and a third chance begins August 1.