Small businesses in some low- to moderate-income areas of Wichita may be able to apply soon for federal stimulus money to improve their facades.
The city has earmarked $200,000 from stimulus funds for a neighborhood facade program. The Wichita City Council will decide today whether to approve guidelines proposed for the program.
To be eligible, businesses must be in the area bounded by Pawnee on the south, 29th Street North on the north, Hillside on the east and Cooper and the I-235 bypass on the west.
Projects must cost no more than $50,000. The money could be used for small projects such as new paint, improved signs and window replacements. Improvements also may address safety or code issues, and boost energy efficiency.
Mary K. Vaughn, the city's housing and community services director, said the goal of the program is to revitalize small neighborhood commercial areas.
"We hope it will generate more customers for them, therefore have an economic impact on the area as well," she said.
Because the targeted businesses are different, and federal criteria must be met, the neighborhood facade program guidelines are slightly different from those approved by the council in June for the city facade improvements program.
Among the differences:
* Businesses must be owned by, or hire, people who have low- to moderate incomes. They must have no more than 20 employees.
* They must be located in the defined area.
* They must have been in business for at least one year at their current locations.
Funds will be in the form of Community Development Block Grants that don't have to be repaid.
Applications will be accepted between Nov. 15 and Jan. 15. Decisions will be announced after the January deadline.
For information and application packages, owners may contact the Office of Urban Development, 316-268-4524.cq