STOCKTON — Small businesses throughout Stockton could be given the opportunity attract more patrons in the very near future.
The Stockton City Council will consider approving $25,000 in funds for a new Storefront Beautification Micro Grant program at its Tuesday meeting.
If approved, the program will provide grants of as much as $2,000 to small businesses along select commercial corridors to improve storefront aesthetics such as windows, signs, paint, awnings, lighting and plants and trellises.
Micah Runner, the city of Stockton’s Economic Development Director, said helping some businesses improve their exteriors could help turn surrounding neighborhoods into destinations benefit the overall community.
He cited a criminology theory created in 1982, dubbed the “broken windows theory,” as a model for turning things around.
According to Wikipedia.org, the broken windows theory is a criminological theory that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder create an environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.
“If someone sees broken windows on a building, they see things start to tear down around that particular area,” Runner said. “Ultimately, people are less likely to invest in that community, and this is something we thought we should really try.”
Those interested in obtaining the grants will be required to apply on a first-come, first-served basis.
If each interested business estimates the maximum $2,000 in cost for their project, Runner said just 12 to 16 grants can be awarded.
The grants, however, will be reimbursement funds. So, businesses awarded the grants will need to make the renovations first, then be repaid for their efforts once complete, Runner said.
Storefronts eligible for the grants include those along Charter Way; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; East Main Street; Airport Way; East Fremont Street; West Lane; East Benjamin Holt Drive (east of Pacific Avenue); Hammer Lane; Lower Sacramento Road (near Ponce de Leon Avenue); Pacific Avenue (between Harding Way and Alpine Avenue); Harding Way; Yosemite Street; El Dorado Street (up to Essex Street); California Street (up to Alpine Avenue); and in the Downtown Improvement District.
Michael Huber, executive director of the Downtown Stockton Alliance, said anything that helps make small businesses more attractive is a positive for both the store owner and the city.
“We (in downtown) do have some businesses that have been here a long time,” he said. “Giving them incentives to spruce up their storefronts or clean up the vegetation outside will definitely help improve the area. I think a lot of people will apply, not just downtown, but citywide.”
Businesses such as card rooms, car dealerships, government buildings and national chains or franchise-owned stores will not be eligible for the grants.
In addition, applicants will be ineligible if their plans include new building construction, repairs not related to exterior façade aesthetics, projects completed before applications were submitted, or for the purchase of property or equipment.
“National chains and the government have other resources available to them to complete façade improvements,” Runner said. “Our focus is on small businesses that our residents and visitors can be proud are in our community.”
This is the first time the city is offering such grants to small businesses, although Runner said façade grants of as much as $180,000 have been awarded to larger businesses in the past.
If the small-business grants are successful this year, the city will consider offering the program again in subsequent years, Runner said.
Applications will be available soon after Tuesday’s council meeting, he said.
In other action
The council will also consider an amended lease with Assured Guaranty, the creditor that took control of 400 E. Main St. as part of the city’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy exit agreement.
If approved, the city will reduce the amount of space leased in the building by 19,491 square feet on the first floor — which is no longer occupied by city staff — allowing the creditor to rent the area to another tenant.
As a result, the city would then occupy only 60,829 square feet on the third, fourth, and seventh floors, and save $990,215, according to staff.
Tuesday’s council meeting begins at 5:30 at 425 N. El Dorado St. in Stockton, on the second floor.
The full agenda can be viewed at stocktongov.com/government/oMeetings/default.html.
Contact reporter Wes Bowers at (209) 546-8258, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @WesBo26.