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JRC Creates Funding Programs To Assist Businesses In Reopening

The Jamestown Renaissance Corp. has developed three new matching grant programs to assist businesses adapt to new conditions once they reopen following the COVID-19. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

Parklets may soon assist downtown businesses seat more guests.

The parklet idea is new to Jamestown, but is widely used in other cities to seat more customers outside, said Kristofor Sellstrom, Jamestown Renaissance Corp. board co-chairman.

A parklet is a sidewalk extension that provides more space and amenities for people using the street. Usually parklets are installed on parking lanes and use several parking spaces. Parklets typically extend out from the sidewalk at the level of the sidewalk to the width of the adjacent parking space.

Sellstrom said the parklet is one of three new matching grant programs created recently by the Jamestown Renaissance Corp. to assist businesses when they reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The JRC just approved these three new programs that essentially will focus on trying to get local downtown businesses setup and geared up under the new operating rules from the state,” Sellstrom said.

The new programs will provide 50% matching grants to a business up to $3,000 and a match up to 70% of $4,000 if businesses, at least three, collaborate, Sellstrom said. The new programs will be included as part of JRC’s Building Business Improvement Programs, which are funded by the Gebbie Foundation. The deadline for the grant applications will be June 12.

“So when (the businesses) reopen they will have all the tools they need, or at least what the JRC can offer,” he said.

Sellstrom said to allow for the parklets idea, city zoning code will need to be changed. He said city officials are working on creating a process to allow businesses to potentially use on-street parking spaces for outside seating.

“The parklets will be pending the city’s new rules. That will have to wait for the city’s final permit process,” he said. “The city still needs to determine leasing and safety requirements. Once that is done, the JRC will be ready with the matching grant.”

Another of the new grant programs is outdoor urban dining. Sellstrom said businesses will be able to apply for funding to purchase new tables, chairs and umbrellas for outside seating.

“This will enable them to do business on curbs,” he said. “They will have to go through the city permitting process. The JRC will pay the permit fee.”

The third program is an urban e-commerce fund that will help businesses create or update its website so they can do more online sales.

“In light of COVID-19, we want to get more businesses online and that will likely lead to more curbside pickup,” Sellstrom said. “The main focus for this program is for retailers in the downtown so they can do more curbside pickup and get back to being open as soon as possible.”

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