Directors of Lincoln City’s Urban Renewal Agency are vetting the contents of an economic development ‘toolbox’ proposed by staff in an attempt to decide which would be of most use to local businesses.

The Agency’s staff developed the toolbox, which consists of 22 proposed programs in response to the board of directors’ decision to set aside $700,000 for economic development activities in 2012-13.

The proposed programs include loans and grants for everything from business startup and expansion to Internet commerce and energy efficiency, as well as proposals to create a downtown manager position and support local childcare (see graphic).

Executive Director Kurt Olsen said feedback from the Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce and the Bay Area Merchants Association was generally positive but noted that members tended to think the proposed programs could be of more use to businesses other than their own.

Olsen asked directors to review the list and pick the programs they would like to see move forward.

“I don’t think there’s anything on here that I couldn’t support,” he said. “And I don’t think that there’s anything on here that’s going to be a line out the door.”

“I think you would make a bold statement and you would read about it in the Oregonian if you approved all 22 of them,” he added

Mayor Dick Anderson, who along with his city council colleagues sits on the board of directors, said he would like to focus on loans rather than grants so that the money keeps circulating after the urban renewal agency winds up in 2014.

Noting that most of the proposed programs involve grants and loans, Councilor Chester Noreikis asked whether the local business community is interested in such support.

“In the years that I’ve been sitting on this agency I have yet to see business clamoring for our help or our advice or our assistance or anything else,” he said, adding: “I get the feeling we are trying to push people into making their businesses better and they are really not interested.”

City Manager David Hawker said while some of the programs are designed to help businesses do things they would like to do, others, such as the downtown manager and childcare proposals, are designed to achieve something individual businesses cannot do on their own.

Directors agreed to review and rate the proposals in time for their next meeting, which will take place either Aug. 27 or, failing that Sept. 10. Check www.lincolncity.org/public-meetings.html for details.

Business expansion loan

Funding for expansion, equipment that would create equivalent of at least one full-time job. Amount of loan based on number of jobs created.

Mixed-use housing loans

Funding to rehabilitate upper floors of commercial buildings into low-cost housing.

Energy efficiency loans

10-year, zero-interest loans to fund improvements such as solar panels, new windows or furnaces.

Childcare

Support exiting program or provide space where several childcare providers could operate.

Internet commerce loan

Provide classes or software to help businesses start making online sales.

Gap funding program

Offer loans that entrepreneurs could add to bank loans or personal funds to finalize development.

Downtown manager

Two year pilot project to create position to co-ordinate activities of business districts. If successful, merchants’ associations could take it on.

Business operations review

Hire a consultant to come in and do assessments of local businesses and give advice on areas such as marketing.

Main Street Initiative

Offer grants of up to $10,000 to merchants’ associations to carry out projects approved by the Agency.

Business startup loans

Funding could be loan or grant, offered through an Agency program or to provide extra funds through an existing one.

Business incubator/business center

Restart the City’s business incubator project. Market the facility a business center for travelers as well as a home for startups.

Welcome Home program

Offer startup funding to students that went to school here who come back to start a business.

Pre-pay development fees

Encourage developments by paying system development charges upfront so developer can repay when selling or leasing.

Building rehabilitation loans

Existing program offering zero-interest loans for façade improvements. Could increase from current $50,000 cap to cover larger projects.

Building rehabilitation grants

Grant version of above program. Agency could target particular buildings it would like to see rehabilitated.

Lease subsidy program

Offer loans or grants to subsidize lease payments for existing businesses that locate within district.

Sign change out grants

Provide incentives for businesses to update their signs to models approved by the Agency.

Vacant space leasing

Encourage use of vacant storefronts by offering holiday from City start-up fees, including occupation tax, permit fees and system development charges.

Infrastructure partners

Existing program. Bring in sewer, water, sidewalks, parking for redevelopment projects.

Work force education grants

Pay for employees to take a class to expand business services offered.

Local program support

Invite organizations involved in economic development to apply for funds for activities within the district.

Visitor attraction loan

Fund ventures that could rival the glass foundry and culinary center as tourist draws.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.