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JRC Launches Grant Application Program

The Jamestown Renaissance Corp. is hoping to facilitate business growth in 2023 through grant funding opportunities.

JRC recently launched its Building and Business Improvement Program grant application for 2023. The program has been utilized by JRC for many years to promote business improvement in the downtown region by providing a matching grant to local businesses.

Urban Core Director Frank Besse said JRC will match financing and reimburse businesses up to $25,000 for each approved business application.

“It’s a matching grant for improvements to buildings that increase the profitability and functionality of the building or the business,” he said. “If a project is $50,000 or higher, we’ll reimburse $25,000. It’s up to that. We sometimes see smaller projects or projects come in under that amount and we support them.”

Pre-application for the Building and Business Improvement Program is due Dec. 19, with the full application due Jan. 17. Businesses will be notified of a grant award or denial of the application by Feb. 4.

This year, Besse said JRC is looking to help activate “underutilized spaces” for downtown businesses. For example, Besse said the grant opportunity could help businesses renovate office space or increase the functionality of a building by adding or removing a wall.

“We’re really trying to support the physical parts of the building,” he said. “We know that owning and operating businesses in some of these older buildings can be expensive, but we also know that it’s worthwhile. Anything that we can do to support that, we want to do.”

Besse said JRC is encouraging local business owners to view the grant application online and consider some potential projects that could improve the operation of their building or business. He is also encouraging businesses to reach out for additional help and guidance for potential projects.

“I’m available to have conversations, to walk through buildings and talk about what would be good ideas,” he said. “It’s really just to kind of spur that investment and be along with you as you kind of try to make the best of downtown.”

While the total grant funding available through the Building and Business Improvement Program could vary based on the interest of local businesses, Besse said over $100,000 is available for the program in the downtown region this coming year.

In past years, Besse said JRC has supported “community minded nonprofits” in addition to local businesses through the grant funding program. For example, JRC has supported the YWCA because of its location on Main Street and the wide range of programs that benefit the whole community. However, Besse explained the priority this year will be local businesses.

“Our primary focus is for-profit businesses and building owners in the downtown,” he said.

Besse also explained priority will be given to businesses with applications that focus on practical improvements. He acknowledged that while general maintenance projects are important, JRC is looking to partner with businesses that are looking to expand.

“The best applications are ones that say, ‘we’re going to expand the business or have a new tenant,’ or, ‘we’re going to try to make some sort of improvement that makes things more viable in the long run for the business or the building,'” he said.

Besse believes the grant program can have a long-term impact by highlighting downtown Jamestown as a successful place for local business and investment. By incentivizing individual improvements to local businesses, JRC is aiming to benefit the collective downtown community.

“We want to preserve and improve our historic downtown,” Besse said. “It’s important that we incentivize that because we know that there’ll be an added benefit that there are all these businesses in close proximity.”

Besse said an example would be the holiday shopping season in downtown Jamestown. He explained that local residents will be able to take advantage of multiple opportunities to shop at businesses that have all benefited from the services and grant opportunities offered by JRC.

“You’re going to be able to come downtown and do some great shopping because those businesses are here, they have great buildings and you can pick up those great presents for your friends and family and enjoy that walk about downtown hopefully on a beautiful winter afternoon.”

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