Craig City Council OKs grant to support Community Budget Center site improvement
Council still divided on value of grant program
The Community Budget Center was awarded a small business grant for $8,535 to upgrade the exterior facade of its downtown location.
On Tuesday night, Sept. 27, Craig City Council approved the center’s grant request for site improvements including removal of the current turquoise and gray exterior facade, new signage and restoring the original brick storefront to match the sides of the building.
Community Budget Center Vice President Delaine Voloshin appeared before council along with the center’s new executive director, Nancy Grijalba, and bookkeeper Wendy Nordstrom.
“We really do good business downtown,” Voloshin said. “We’re a big draw downtown, but we think that by having the facade removed, it will certainly make it a more appealing building,”
The Community Budget Center has been in business for 25 years and its downtown location at 555 Yampa Ave. was built more than 100 years ago to service cars and wagons, according to the grant application. On Tuesday, Voloshin showed a picture of the original building with a horse-drawn carriage parked in front.
The building has had several different purposes over the years — from an upscale dress shop to an auto parts store to a furniture store. Since the budget center moved in, it has become an attraction for thrifters throughout the region, and it serves as a hub for accepting local donations of used goods.
“Even though we are a nonprofit, we bring in a lot of money to the community from various areas,” said Voloshin. “And the money that we receive does go back into the community to help people who may be in need with different programs that we have available.”
The Community Budget Center is funded through donations and grants, as well as the sale of donated items. Currently, there are 13 employees, in addition to many volunteers throughout the year.
The overall improvement project is estimated at $17,071, and all of the work is being sourced through local businesses. The Community Budget Center aims to complete the project by mid-December.
Small business grant program
City Council approved the small business grant for the Community Budget Center 5-0, with two council members abstaining from the vote. Council members unanimously expressed their support for the center’s work, but council members remained divided on the public value of the small business grant program.
Council member Tom Kleinschnitz abstained from the vote, stating that he feels the city should move away from the small business grant program, though he also emphasized that the budget center is a vital part of the community.
Council member Paul James also abstained from the vote with similar sentiments.
“I just don’t see facade improvement as public-cause and it’s been a long heated debate for me,” James said. “I worked very closely with Karen for quite a while, but as far as the public money, I don’t want to say no because I do appreciate you, but I am on the same page as Kleinschnitz that I am going to be abstaining.”
Other voices on the council expressed support for the small business grant program, including council member Chris Nichols, who has been a strong supporter of the program to improve the community in general.
Nichols explained that the small business grant program has inspired other businesses that were not awarded funding to make facade improvements and building upgrades.
“If we are going to transition from an energy community to attracting new businesses to this community we have to improve the looks,” Nichols said. “It has to be a warm inviting community where people want to move.”
Council member Sean Hovorka expressed support for the program stating that as Craig improves downtown, it draws more people to the area.
To date, there have been seven small business grants approved this year, spending $58,035 of the $85,000 allocated. That leaves $26,965 in available funding and the final deadline for applications to be submitted is Oct. 21.
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