Appleton launches business enhancement grants

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - The City of Appleton has more than $40,000 of grant money to offer businesses wanting to enhance the exterior of their location. The money is designated for two new TIF districts, including the majority of the downtown business district.

Exterior of Crazy Sweet candy store in downtown Appleton
Crazy Sweet candy store in downtown Appleton (WBAY photo)

Lights, paint, façade work, a new roof, even parking lot improvements -- those are the types of projects Appleton's new Business Enhancement Grant Program can help to fund. Launched in January, the money is available for businesses in two newly-created TIF districts. Those districts, eleven and twelve, cover both the east and west sides of College Avenue.

"These enhancements will help to stabilize that neighborhood, hold the value and possibly even increase the value of that building, and add to the vibrancy and vitality of our downtown," says Karen Harkness, the Director of Community and Economic Development.

The grants being offered are matching funds up to $7,000. Twenty-one thousand dollars has been designated for each TIF district. It's an investment business owners along College Avenue believe means good things for the area.

Mary Kelley owns Crazy Sweet. She says, "Anything that looks neat and clean is a lot more inviting and looks like oh, they really take care of everything. It's a lot more appealing that you would want to go into those businesses."

The city says it's had some inquiries from businesses about the grant program and it's anxious to put the money to good use.

According to Harkness, "There's lot of property owners that have plans out there, this is hopefully a tool that will allow them to operationalize those dreams of those plans that they have for their buildings and their businesses."

Applications for the grant program are available on the city's website. The funding will be distributed on a first come, first served basis.