Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Storefront improvement funds available

Grants available through CDBG and city of Cook

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COOK- Business owners in Cook interested in upgrading their building’s storefront may qualify for a new grant program being offered by CDBG and the city of Cook.

Business leaders and city officials came together, last Thursday, to hear from Reed Erickson of the Cook Housing Authority regarding the next round of funding for CDBG, or Community Development Block Grants. Erickson told the business owners the MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) is allocating grants to communities for business revitalization aimed at helping business owners with exterior or storefront improvements such as signage, windows, painting, and siding. The funds are not available for interior upgrades.

City Administrator Theresa Martinson and Councilor Liz Storm described the importance of maintaining business buildings and funding city beatification projects to attract people to live and work in the community. “People may not understand the importance of the improvements, but if we want to attract people to come and live here, it’s important to have these upgrades,” Martinson said.

The Cook Housing Authority will oversee the project administration and disbursement of the funds. Erickson explained that the businesses would receive one-third of the total project cost as a grant for the upgrades from CDBG, up to $15,000. Additionally, Theresa Martinson said the Cook City Council approved to set aside $6,000 in support of the project as an extra incentive for businesses to take advantage of the offer. Although the schedule amount the city would grant to individual business owners has not been determined, the amount could be close to tenpercent, up to $1,000. The business owners are responsible for the remaining two-thirds for the project. “There are no requirements for a keeping a theme. You do what works for you. It’s pretty simplistic. The only requirement is that the work has to be completed, it can’t be left undone.” Martinson added that the city has a good reputation for following through with projects, which makes them a good candidate for the funds.

Business owners interested in learning more should contact Administrator Martinson at city hall (218-666-2200) for more details. Erickson said business owners have until Oct 15 to submit a project summary for consideration. Funds would be awarded in 2018.

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