Directors of Lincoln Citys 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 Agencys 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 dont think theres anything on here that I couldnt support, he said. And I dont think that theres anything on here thats 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 Ive 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.
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.
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 Citys 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.
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.