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Casper's Downtown Development Authority considering new grant program to help business owners

Tearah and Titan created “Stranger Things” and “Box Man” with Kylar at the 12th Annual Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival in downtown Casper. (Gregory Hurst, Oil City News)

Casper, WY — On Wednesday, the Downtown Development Authority of Casper’s board of directors discussed some ideas for some new ways the DDA can support businesses and property owners downtown.

The DDA receives funds from factories and is taxed on property owners within the district. This tax is voted on and approved by such property owners before being imposed. Some of that money can be used for a new grant program to help owners make improvements in their downtown neighborhoods, said DDA executive his director Kevin Hawley.

Hawley asked the board to establish a grant program using $5,000 to $10,000 from annual property taxes to help downtown property owners offset property improvements such as sidewalk repairs. I suggested.

Recently, someone asked if the DDA had such a grant program, prompting Hawley to bring the idea to the board.

Deb Clark, owner of and member of the DDA Board of Directors, said:

Clark heard from someone about removing the fake building fascia covering the original brick building downtown.

Board chairman Tim Schenk noted that removal of the sign covering the original bricks must be done carefully.

The DDA had previously provided some assistance to companies to improve the building. According to Hawley, when such a program was being discussed about six or seven years ago, Lou Taubert said the grant would not help with things like adding new sprinkler lines on the property, but on the exterior of the property. I suggested limiting the support to construction work. Hawley said the point is that the grant should provide a collective benefit to downtown property owners.

Schenk said he believes it would be a good idea to focus the grant program on supporting exterior work rather than interior work.

While the amount DDA can provide is likely not enough to make a big difference for expensive projects, Hawley said the grant program will help property owners take care of minor exterior maintenance issues. suggested that it could serve as a spur to encourage them to do so. Otherwise it may be postponed.

Board treasurer Nicholas Grooms believes the grant program will put the factory tax dollars DDA receives from downtown property owners to good use to help develop the downtown area. said.

“I think it’s within our mission,” Grooms said.

Clark said the grant program could be one of the efforts to get people to do business downtown. She added that she hopes the board will be given more time to figure out how to attract new businesses and tenants to the downtown area.

Both Clarke and Grooms noted that downtown offers opportunities for businesses to rent at affordable prices.

Grooms said downtown is moving in a positive direction. He said he thinks what the DDA would like to see could help businesses expand their hours, as more businesses operate from ground floor spaces. rice field.

According to Grooms, creating a grant program adds another feature that the DDA can highlight when encouraging businesses to consider locating downtown.

Hawley also believes Downtown has had some success.

“Downtown is doing really well, even though I think it’s a terrible economy,” he said.

Having a grant program focused on helping companies take care of smaller exterior works could also have a ripple effect, Hawley said, adding that companies could help their neighbors. He said he believes that when he sees companies investing in improvements, they tend to invest in improvements.

Hawley encouraged the board to consider several priority projects that the proposed grant program could focus on. He suggested considerations such as sidewalk improvements, new murals, ADA accessible ramps, and exterior lighting.

The board did not vote to create a new grant program, but seemed open to the idea. If a program was started in a short period of time, the fiscal year budget should be revised because the DDA did not allocate funds for such a program in the new budget.