Warren Offers Facade Program for Businesses

WARREN, Ohio — Businesses in the city could get a facelift under a new program being introduced.

Using community development block grant funds received as part of the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is offering grants of up to $10,000 to city businesses for exterior improvements. Last year, the city offered $5,000 grants using COVID relief CDBC funds to help businesses pay for personal protective equipment, retrofit their facilities and restock inventory.

“At that time, we always knew we wanted to follow up with a second round,” said Mike Keys, Warren community development director. Through discussions with businesses, city officials determined that exterior improvements likely got set aside during the past year or so because of the pandemic.   

Keys is looking at a pot of about $300,000 for the program but is flexible. If requests exceed that amount, there is an additional funding source he potentially could tap. If total grant requests come under the $300,000, individual grants could be increased, he added. 

Warren Redevelopment and Planning Corp. will administer the funds, and applications will be reviewed and scored by members of the city’s design review committee, according to the city.

Eligible improvements may include but are not limited to signage, awnings, lighting, paint, window/door replacement, accessibility, landscaping, exterior cleaning and historical architectural improvements. 

The funds can’t be used for roofs, basic maintenance and repair work, and heating/ventilation/cooling upgrades.

Eligible applicants must own a commercial property or businesses lin the city of Warren. Residential properties and/or home-based businesses will not qualify for funding. All applicants must have consent of the property owner to make proposed improvements.  

Eligible costs include labor, design, materials and permit fees. Funds are disbursed upon the submission of an invoice or appropriate documentation to WRAP.

Costs incurred for alternations or improvements completed prior to receipt of formal written approval by the Program’s Review Committee are not eligible for reimbursement.    

Applicants are encouraged to promote historic preservation and accessibility standards in designing improvements, to the extent that they are financially feasible or required by law, according to the release All improvements must conform to applicable city building codes, zoning ordinances, local, state, and federal laws and regulations and must be completed by July 15, 2022. 

The improvements will help businesses show that they are open to serve the public, Keys said. In addition, the city benefits from the spruced-up sits.

“It’s a win-win all the way around,” he remarked. 

Businesses interested in applying are asked to submit a letter of interest form by Nov. 12. The required letter of interest forms are available on line at Warren.org or WrapCorp.org.

To request a form and/or submit questions, email Anthony Iannucci, executive director of WRAP, at [email protected] or Keys at [email protected].

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.