Grant Program revived

RUTLAND - The Downtown Rutland Partnership recently resuscitated its program to offer micro-grants to local small businesses. The program had debuted in early 2010, and drew plenty of interest from local businesses, which triggered the partnership to re-examine the programs in their 2010 marketing study and increase the total amount of grant money available from $5,000 to $6,000.

"The two grant programs (business and marketing) were both so well received this year and last, that we are planning to continue the programs and hopefully, be able to increase the grant money we can offer," Downtown Rutland Partnership Executive Director Michael Coppinger said in a recent interview. "We just recently awarded six, $1,000 grants to local Rutland businesses but had several more apply. So hopefully we will be able to expand to provide more micro grants in the future."

The main purpose of the Downtown Rutland Partnership is to market and maintain the Downtown Rutland district and improve the vitality of the business community and enhance the cultural and physical climate. The partnership also serves the needs of Rutland Redevelopment Authority and the property and business owners of the downtown area.

Through the middle of March, the partnership accepted applications for both $750 and $1,000 grants to pay for direct improvements to various businesses within the Special Benefits District. Over a dozen local businesses applied for the grants and five of the applications will be granted.

The criteria for these micro-grants are fairly straight forward, asking if the project will bring jobs to the downtown area or somehow benefit other downtown businesses. It also asks how the project is sustainable beyond a years time. Also, the partnership committee that reviews the applications do not know what business is applying for the grant.

The types of projects that the partnership looks at favorable include the purchasing or upgrading of office computers and software, fa ade or building improvements and equipment purchases or upgrades. "Our most recent grants were awarded to Pip's Barbershop on Strongs Avenue, the Caf Terra on Center Street, IZapa Burrito Bar on Evelyn Street, Green Screen Graphics on Pine Street, Cold River Frameworks on Center Street and Hawley's Florist also on Center Street," Coppinger added.

Last year, the Downtown Rutland Partnership micro-grants helped pay for several community businesses including replacing the roof at The Sandwich Shop, renovating the bar area at Tapas, bought new lighting at Tatersall's and new display cases at Limoges Antiques Shop.

To learn more about the Downtown Rutland partnership and the next opportunity for micro business grants, visit their Web site at www.rutlanddowntown.com or call 802-773-9380.

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