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‘I’ll be able to get on my feet again:’ Six Bend Core Area businesses share $100,000 in city grants for improvements

(Update: Adding video, maps, comments from businesses)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Six businesses in Bend’s Core Area will collectively receive $100,000 in grants for planned building improvements after city councilors, in their roles as the Bend Urban Renewal Agency, voted to approve an inaugural round of business assistance grants for the area.

Councilors approved the grant awards last Wednesday to support both internal and external building improvements. Examples include signage, exterior lighting, safety upgrades, permit fees, and accessibility improvements.

Six of the seven applicants were approved for some level of funding. They include:

  • Colima Market
  • Dogwood Cocktail Cabin
  • Growing Tree Children's Center
  • Timber Kiddies Preschool
  • Open Space Event Studios
  • 1631 NE Second Street (Building Owner Applied) which houses Ritual Beauty Bar, Puppy Parlor, Broken Halo Salon, and Ajaye Beauty

The Core Area Business Assistance Program is a grant program to support both internal and external building upgrades that improve the appearance and operations of businesses within the Core Area. The program is funded from revenue generated by the Core Area Tax Increment Financing Area and is intended to help spur redevelopment, improve the aesthetics of the Core Area, and directly support businesses.

The assistance program gives funding for improvements to businesses within the designated Core Area, which is 637 acres, stretching from just south of Wilson Avenue to just north of Revere Avenue:

This was the first round of applications for this program, which is expected to be available on an annual basis. Project Manager Allison Platt said Thursday she expects the program will be taking applications again this summer.

The image below indicates the businesses within the area that applied for funding. There are seven total, including Riverside Animal Hospital, however Riverside did not receive an award.

In order to qualify for eligibility, there are a certain set of requirements businesses must meet.

Platt said, "We actually have an advisory board that reviews all of the applications, and they have an evaluation scoring criteria that they use. So they look at kind of the catalytic potential of the project and how likely is that project to support the redevelopment goals of the districts? What are the equitable outcomes of the project?

"And that's one where local businesses or businesses that are owned by a woman or someone that identify as a minority would score higher than a business that doesn't qualify as one of those. And then the project need: So what is the demonstrated financial need of the project? And then lastly, kind of the projects and how soon can the project be done?"

The goal of the program is to create an area of the district where people can live, work and play. The program is tailored toward businesses that are customer-centered and public-focused. Retail and restaurants may score higher on the eligibility criteria than an office building would, for example.

"One of the goals of this program is also to kind of help reduce impacts of gentrification," she added. "And so really trying to help those businesses that might be at risk for displacement.”

Open Space Event Studios Manager Leah Rutz says they already have plans drawn up for how $18,000 in grant money will be spent. Half of their building was previously a mechanic shop, and the owners would like to renovate it into something more usable for the community, such as a coffee shop. The space would need major infrastructure updates such as adding sidewalks, stairs, a patio, and a ramp for accessibility.

"The biggest opportunity that I see is really for the the district and neighborhood itself," Rutz said, "because the more that people see small businesses thriving in this area, the more that we're going to cultivate the the inner Eastside, that urban culture that we're really looking for and are really ripe for in Bend,” 

Teacher and Timber Kiddies Preschool owner Malia Finazzo-Kreuger said the grants will really help with the hurdles new businesses often face.

Her advice? "Don't give up. I almost threw in the rag, but I did not. I would say apply for everything that you can. I’ve been stressed out, and it's been really hard to start up the school. There's a lot of fees and stuff that you have to pay. And so it was really exciting to know that I'll be able to pay everybody off and get on my feet again."

City Councilor Barb Campbell, chair of the Bend Urban Renewal Agency, said, “I’m so excited to see this program directly helping Bend businesses, including two child care operators who help make our community and our Core Area so special.”

The Core Area Advisory Board reviewed and scored the applications before making an initial funding recommendation to the Bend Urban Renewal Agency on the allocation of funds.

Projects were evaluated based on their catalytic potential, demonstrated financial need, as well as equitable outcomes in which small, local, and disadvantaged businesses were prioritized for funding.

The BURA presentation is viewable here.

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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