An op-ed in the Indianapolis Business Journal touted LISC Indianapolis’s very successful Small Business Façade Improvement program, which has made a huge difference for entrepreneurs launching and growing enterprises in post-industrial neighborhoods there. The program “primes the pump” for small businesses at pivotal points in their development, and helps boost the commercial and physical landscape of the surrounding area in the bargain.
The excerpt below is from:
EDITORIAL: Small grants, loans can launch a neighborhood renaissance
by IBJ Staff, Indianapolis Business Journal
Sometimes just a little bit of help is all a business needs to get over the hump.
That’s the theory behind Local Initiatives Support Corp.’s Small Business Facade Improvement program, which IBJ’s Susan Orr detailed in last week’s paper.
The program has awarded more than $3.1 million to Marion County businesses since 2004—funding that has helped leverage more than $10.6 million in investment by property owners.
Most of the grants are quite small—usually a few thousand dollars and rarely more than $25,000. The money can cover 50 percent of the cost of facade improvements, including new signs, entryway improvements, exterior painting and new windows.
We love the idea. And the proof is in the results. Some of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods—Fountain Square and Mass Ave, among them—have been beneficiaries of facade grants.
The Fletcher Place area is a great example. Mexican sandwich shop Tortas Guicho Dominguez y El Cubanito, upscale restaurant Bluebeard, brunch spot Milktooth and distillery Hotel Tango all received money to help freshen up their storefronts. The resulting facades help give the area a trendy vibe that draws customers and distinguishes the neighborhood from others.
There’s also a subtle pressure that comes when one business improves its look. The keeping-up-with-the-Joneses effect means other businesses are likely to follow suit and improve their storefronts as well, which can contribute to the renaissance of an entire neighborhood.
The grant program “helps prime the pump,” said Tedd Grain, deputy director for LISC’s Indianapolis office. Continued [+]...