Blue Jacket Awarded City Facade Grant!

(link to original article in The Journal Gazette from March 25, 2015 1:03 AM)

City awards 8 firms grants for facades

Dave Gong The Journal Gazette

2015 grant recipients

• Doolittle Electric, 2046 S. Lafayette St.

• Belmont Beverage, 4308 S. Anthony Blvd.

• Blue Jacket, 2826 S. Calhoun St.

• Ingleman Parrish Orthodontics, SAG Properties, B’Exquisite Salon & Spa, 223 E. Tillman Road

• New Image Printing, 3233 Lafayette St.

• Sanco Industries, 1819 S. Calhoun St.

• The Old East End Building, 1501 E. Berry St.

• Trouble Brewing, 2725 Broadway

Addressing community members Tuesday morning at Doolittle Electric, Fort Wayne city officials announced the recipients of the latest round of facade grant funding.

The awards – which total about $218,000 – were granted to eight local businesses, most of which reside on the city’s south side.

Each individual business can receive up to $20,000 to put toward their properties, and buildings with multiple tenants can receive up to $40,000. Grant recipients are required to agree to a dollar-for-dollar match in order to receive funding.

Doolittle Electric was one of the businesses to receive a grant award on Tuesday.

“As we all know, for small businesses working capital is important, so any help we can get to help us establish our businesses is greatly appreciated,” said Dave Doolittle, who along with his wife, Candace, owns Doolittle Electric. “It’s nice to know that the city, the mayor, is behind establishing and helping us in our business.”

Doolittle Electric will use the grant to make its entrance more prominent, with new signage, as well as new windows and awnings, said Greg Leatherman, director of Community Development.

“As you can see, this building does need a little bit of work, but they have the energy and commitment to make it something really special,” he said. “Their hard work will beautify this well-traveled road, help draw attention to business and encourage other businesses to invest in their properties.”

Mayor Tom Henry described the city’s facade grant program as “a dramatic effort in the heart of our city,” and noted the importance of continuing to invest in Fort Wayne’s downtown.

“Granted, we need to put a lot of money in the neighborhoods as well, as far as infrastructure,” he said. “But the heart of every city is its downtown. Without downtown, we wouldn’t have a city.”

The grant award will help Blue Jacket, an employment center at 2826 S. Calhoun St., be more inviting to clients and neighborhood residents, said Tony Hudson, the organization’s executive director.

“What that grant will do is allow for a great many of our clients who are wanting second chances to be able to walk into an establishment that really says, ‘You matter.’ Not only those individuals who are hungry for a second chance, but customers and volunteers and employers, all of our partners,” he said.

“Blue Jacket has 30 nonprofit partners, and it’s real important that we have a very welcoming facade for them,” Hudson said.

The facade grants are less about attracting business and more about beautification and upkeep within the community, said Chad Hankee, owner of Trouble Brewing, a brewery set to open this summer at 2725 Broadway.

“It’s just a big part of upkeep on some of these old buildings that are 100 years old,” he said.

“I love seeing the renovations on these buildings, rather than putting up new strip mall buildings, which you get a lot of in the suburbs. It’s great to see these buildings salvaged and kept up.”

To qualify for the program, businesses must be located within an economic development target area and must have commercial activity as their primary purpose.

Business owners applying for the grant must also demonstrate that the building is structurally sound and complies with local zoning codes.

When designing improvements, businesses must also adhere to the original materials and style of the building.

More information about the facade grant program is available at http://fwcommunitydevelopment.org/commercial-facade-grant-program.

dgong@jg.net