Oil City Facade Improvement Grant Program Now Open

| June 30, 2020

OIL CITY, Pa. – Downtown Oil City property and business owners who are considering storefront improvement projects within the next two years may be eligible for a Façade Improvement Grant of up to $5,000.

Together with the City of Oil City, the Oil City Main Street Program has secured $50,000 in Façade Improvement funds and is now accepting applications for the grants. An informational workshop about the grant program will be held via Zoom on Wednesday July 1, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. Interested applicants may visit the Events & News Page of www.oilcitymainstreet.org for the registration link.

The Main Street Façade Improvement Grant Program is a reimbursable, 50/50 matching grant program funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED). Grant funds can be used for exterior storefront projects such as awnings and canopies, signage, windows and doors, cleaning and painting, restoration of masonry, woodwork and metals, lighting, and professional design assistance.

The grants are available for eligible buildings located within the Oil City Main Street District, which includes portions of both the North and South sides of downtown Oil City.

The Façade Improvement Grants encourage the repair or replacement of historic architectural elements, are limited to $5,000 or less and subject to project merit and individual project limits. Some documentation is required, including proof of a current fire inspection on the building, and proof that all city, school and county taxes are current. The applicant can be the building owner, or a business leasing space with the building owner’s consent; and both for-profit and non-profit organizations may apply.

Applications are accepted at the Oil City Main Street Office on a rolling basis throughout the year and approved monthly; projects must be completed within 120 days of grant approval.

The Oil City Main Street Program operated its first round of Façade Improvement Grant funding with a pool of $60,000 from 2012-2015, followed by a second round of $50,000 from 2016-2017. Together, the two funding rounds supported 47 grants totaling $109,069, matched by $178,657 in private investment, resulting in 47 storefront projects valued at $287,729.

The latest round of $50,000 was finalized in spring of 2020 following a successful application to DCED last summer; and will be available on a first-come basis until spring of 2022 unless the funding is depleted sooner. All projects must be completed and paid in full by the applicant before June 30, 2022, when the funding is set to expire.

According to Kathy Bailey, Main Street Manager for the Oil City Main Stree Program, the program has made a visible impact in the downtown Oil City business district.

“Over the past eight years, we’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the storefront improvements that have taken place,” stated Bailey. “The many older buildings in our downtown are the fabric of the business district, and even small improvements can really make a difference. We are very happy to be able to offer these façade grants once again.”

“We realize that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may certainly have upended some plans for cosmetic improvements. While some business owners may not be in the position to carry out a storefront project right now, it’s important to note that this line of funding is available; and is specifically earmarked for façade improvements. We will continue to alert our downtown business and property owners of any other financial assistance as it becomes available.”

The visual appeal of a storefront is often a key factor in the success of a business, according to Bailey.

“Your storefront is really a 24/7 billboard that tells your company’s story. A well-kept building or storefront will appeal to prospective customers or clients… but if it is tired or in disrepair, it could be a turnoff to your customers and can also hurt the whole business district. People tend to make decisions about where to eat, shop, open a business, spend the day, or even live – based on what the place looks like. Updating your storefront sign, adding a fresh coat of paint, replacing an awning or cleaning your masonry can make a world of difference.”

An informational workshop about the Oil City Main Street Façade Improvement Grant Program will be held on Wednesday July 1, 2020 from 9:00 am – 10:00 am to provide an overview of the program’s guidelines, application and review process.

“If you are considering making some improvements within the next year or so, we encourage you to attend, or watch the recording later,” stated Bailey. “There is of course no obligation to apply by attending the workshop.”

There is no cost to attend, however registration is required.

Interested applicants may register for the workshop by visiting the Events & News Page of www.oilcitymainstreet.org, or contact Kathy Bailey at kbailey@oilregion.org or (814) 677-3152, ext. 101 for further information about the grant program.

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