McGregor grant program will help businesses redevelop, improve buildings

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A new program established by the city of McGregor will provide economic development grants to local businesses for the redevelopment and improvement of buildings within the community, particularly in the downtown historic district. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

A new program established by the city of McGregor will provide economic development grants to local businesses for the redevelopment and improvement of buildings within the community.

The Business Enhancement Grant Program, which has been in the works for several years, resembles a state Main Street program that helps with building façade improvements, explained Duane Boelman, McGregor’s deputy city clerk and economic development lead.

“We always wanted to do it, but our downtown is in a floodplain, so it’s not eligible,” he said. “Now, we can use these funds to do the same thing.”

The program is designed to foster an attractive business environment in McGregor. Funds will be available for established and new businesses for façade improvement projects, permanent interior capital improvements, site cleanup or development and other projects approved by the city.

“We’re really encouraging exterior façade improvements to make Main Street pop,” Boelman said.

Types of projects which may be funded include, but are not limited to, brick or wall surface cleaning; patching and painting of façade walls; signage or exterior lighting replacement/repair; canopy, porch, awning installation/repair; tuck pointing; railing or ironwork repair/addition; and cornice repair/replacement. Interior repairs and improvements, such as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, windows, insulation, ceilings, flooring and painting, would also be eligible for assistance.

Any buildings located in McGregor’s downtown commercial historic district, or any others of historic significance, will be required to follow established historic building design guidelines.

Commercial properties must be located within the boundaries of the city of McGregor. This includes short-term vacation rental units that are not the owner’s primary residence.

Projects must improve an existing business that is open to the public consistent hours a majority of the year, produce a turn-key retail or office space that is actively seeking a commercial tenant or, if a short-term vacation rental (less than 31 days per month), be available for rent at least nine months of the year.

Businesses seeking funding must submit an application to the city, along with support materials, including project plans, a list of owners/partners and staff, letter of credit and proof of insurance. Applicants must also be current on property taxes and utilities.

Boelman, the economic development lead, will review the information then forward it to an advisory panel consisting of two members of the McGregor Historic Preservation Commission. The panel will review the application and supply a recommendation for its approval or denial, along with any supporting documentation, to the city council for a final decision.

Applications will be reviewed as they come in to the city. There is no submission deadline.

Subject to the availability of funding, incentives will be awarded up to $5,000 per parcel.

“The business owner has to do a dollar-for-dollar match,” explained Boelman. “If it’s a $10,000 project, they must use $5,000 of their own and can get $5,000 from the program.”

Any work done prior to the approval of a grant application is not eligible for funding. Up to 10 percent of the project cost may be in kind. Reimbursement or payment will only be made for materials and labor not performed by the owner. However, labor performed by the owner may be credited as match at an hourly rate of $20 for the grant, up to 10 percent of the project cost, provided the labor can be verified and is applicable to the project.

Boelman said all projects must be completed within one year. No property will be eligible for more than one grant award in a two-year period. 

At its June 17 meeting, the council approved taking $100,000 from a bank certificate of deposit to establish a fund for the grant program.

Boelman hopes the move signals that McGregor is a business-friendly community. 

“We want to attract businesses and help them be successful,” he said. “The timing is good now—it’s been a rough start to the year. This will hopefully help them thrive.”

For more information about the program, as well as guidelines for historic preservation, rehabilitation, renovation, remodeling and new construction activities, please contact Boelman at McGregor City Hall at (563) 873-3795 or citymcgr3@mediacombb.net.

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