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Batavia deposits $50,000 more  in fund for business expansion

Updated: September 6, 2012 8:47PM

BATAVIA — The city is putting an additional $50,000 into this year’s budget for the downtown improvement grant program, which encourages businesses to invest in the interiors and exteriors of their buildings.

Assistant City Administrator Jason Bajor said this was the first year the full amount of allocated funds had been used and the city has received requests from additional businesses interested in assistance with build-out and restoration projects.

The $50,000 budgeted for this year was awarded to locate or expand six businesses in the downtown, he said. Under the program, property or business owners are eligible for up to 50 percent of the actual improvements costs, with a maximum $25,000 grant. The program was established in 2009 and is funded through two downtown tax increment financing districts.

While a majority of aldermen said they support allocating the additional funds to continue the momentum activity in the downtown, especially given the economic climate of recent years, others had varying opinions.

Alderman Lisa Clark preferred aldermen discuss the program and wait to make the funding available in 2013.

Alderman Garran Sparks said he believed the money would be better spent in the city’s streetscape program.

“I don’t think we need to put money into a business for specific build-out — we have all other kinds of ways to help people out,” Sparks said.

Alderman Jim Volk said the program shows “the council is supportive of the downtown businesses – we are finally getting things rolling here. North River Street (streetscape project) has stirred interest.”

Mayor Jeff Schielke said on a weekly basis someone walks into City Hall inquiring about assistance to start or expand a business.

“I haven’ seen anybody take the money and run out of town – the track record has been good,” Schielke said.

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