Local businesses benefit from Craig’s business grant program
The city of Craig is working to gauge the success of its business grant program, which awarded more than $80,000 to local small businesses this year for downtown façades and other improvements.
At the city’s economic development committee meeting Monday, Nov. 18 at Craig City Hall, City Manager Executive Assistant Melanie Kilpatrick gave an update to the EDC which included before and after pictures of at least nine different local businesses spaces in or near downtown Craig.
Kilpatrick said almost a dozen Craig businesses have been awarded funds so far.
But those awards required matching funds from each business. According to documentation provided by the city, small businesses spent more than $76,000 in funds matched by the city this year.
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“I feel like that’s what this group was hoping for,” said Councilwoman Andrea Camp of the funds matched by area businesses.
But at least one sitting councilman isn’t happy about the business grant program or the economic development committee. At council’s regular meeting Nov. 12, Councilman Paul James told those in attendance he would be voting to approve the city’s proposed 2020 budget, but wanted to make sure to express his discontent.
“I’m still opposed to the economic development committee,” James said. “…I already spoke my peace and got nowhere.”
Mayor Jarrod Ogden disagrees with James, saying the city’s business grant program is keeping aging area businesses spaces spruced up.
“I think the grant program is huge. I keep getting nothing but positive comments about it,” Ogden said Nov. 12. “…Everything is looking better and better all the time.”
At the EDC meeting Monday, Kilpatrick included in a packet some two-dozen before and after photos of at least nine different businesses in Craig. The improvements and upgrades to some of the buildings, especially those who built new facades, left many of the buildings with fresh, new looks.
According to prior Craig Press reporting, Pam Young’s Sundrop Custom Framing was perhaps the first to begin work on their façade in June. As a crew worked Wednesday, June 5 laying fresh stucco on the façade she shares with Downtown Books, Young said it was a hard decision at first to invest more in a building she’s close to paying off entirely.
“Then you kinda see what’s going on across the street at the brewery and I thought it would be nice to keep that momentum going,” Young said Wednesday of construction crews who were close to finishing Yampa Valley Brewing’s Barrel Cathedral at the time.
Young’s frame shop is small and simple, unassuming compared to the glitzy frames that cover almost every empty spot on her walls. She said without the city’s matching grant, she would have been unable to afford such improvements.
“We’re not wealthy business people,” Young said.
Young said she’s glad to contribute to the city’s beautification.
“We’re glad to contribute to that and help beautify the town and give back, help revamp business a little bit,” she said. “The bookstore has been here probably as long as I’ve been. So it’s two businesses that get a new look.”
For all the positive comments Councilman Chris Nichols said he received about the business grant program, Nichols asked how Craig could gauge the effectiveness of their business grant program.
“I hear plenty of positivity from the community on this program, but I would like to see, is there any true benefit to our businesses?” Nichols asked. “Have they added employees? How are we going to measure the success of this?”
City Manager Peter Brixius had an answer to Nichols’ gauging success question, saying the city is trying to put their finger on the pulse of Craig’s businesses community using a survey to gauge their success.
“Hopefully they respond to our pulse survey in aggregate so we can see how they’ve benefited,” Brixius said.
Camp said she hopes the city’s survey will give them some actionable data by 2020.
“Looking into 2020 now that these projects are completed, I’m hoping there’s a way to track the economic progress of this program,” Camp said.
Camp hopes the city’s continued business grant program will attract more residents to Craig.
“It’s great to see this in our community,” Camp said of the business grant program. “This money is being spent to improve the look of our businesses to attract more people here.”
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