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The downtown area is the most visible indicator of a community’s economic and social health and often the first place people think of or want to see when visiting a community.
It can either be an asset or a liability in efforts to recruit new residents, businesses, industry and tourism to the community, said Chamber Services Coordinator Katy Korkos.
In an effort to improve the appearance of the local downtown commercial district, the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, through its Los Alamos MainStreet Program, is seeking applications for grants for curb appeal improvements. Any downtown business or organization may apply for grant funding.
“I have the grant applications in my office. Anyone interested in applying is welcome to stop by and pick up an application,” Korkos said.
Businesses and organizations that lease or own properties in the downtown are eligible to apply, she said.
Applicants may request up to $500 in grant funding for one curb appeal project.
Eligible projects are those that address curb appeal improvements such as signage, landscaping, sidewalk or façade improvements.
A minimum dollar-for-dollar match by the applicant is required.
Applications may be submitted at any time, but funding is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis and only one grant award per business will be awarded, Korkos said.
The MainStreet program works toward the revitalization of New Mexico’s downtowns and traditional commercial districts.
Applications will be
evaluated by a volunteer committee formed by Los Alamos MainStreet and grants will be awarded based upon this evaluation.
Grant applications submitted after Friday but before Jan. 31 will be evaluated for grant awards in February.
Curb appeal projects must be complete and reimbursement applied for no later than May 15, 2010.
“We are really excited about this program because we know the entire community will benefit from a more attractive downtown. We also would like to take this opportunity to commend those people in our community who have improved the looks of their businesses dramatically during the last six months without grants. They have really made a difference for all of us,” Korkos said.
Next to location, curb appeal is cited as the number two factor in generating first time sales at an establishment. Because first impressions are lasting impressions, Korkos said local business owners are encouraged to take a self - assessment of their establishment’s curb appeal:
• Condition of paint and stucco, is it flaking or faded, especially at the entrances;
• Are there broken items, glass, or fixtures;
• Condition of doormats and window blinds;
• Condition of sidewalks and walkways;
• Lighting operating properly; and
• Signage in good repair and operating properly.
• Cleanliness of windows and glass doors;
• Cleanliness of door and window frames; and
• Cleanliness of sidewalk and walkway surfaces.
• Are shrubs and trees neatly trimmed;
• Dead plants and weeds eliminated; and
• Is there an opportunity for landscaping, potted or hanging plants that would benefit curb appeal.
• Can a passing car easily recognize the type of business and whether it’s open;
• Can a passing pedestrian easily recognize the type of business and whether it’s open?
• Can a pedestrian approaching from a half block away in either direction recognize where the business entrance is;
• Are window and door stickers, street side signs and posted notices professional and attractive; and
• Are temporary signs and banners in good condition or have they been left up for too long.
• Curb appeal and affect of neighboring businesses;
• Condition of the adjacent public right of way; and
• Condition and cleanliness of parking areas.
Businesses and organizations seeking to enhance their curb appeal will receive a “container gardening for Los Alamos businesses” guide together with a list of potential local resources for assisting with curb appeal projects.