Community Foundation Announces $50,000 in Small Business Incentives

Posted on July 6, 2007

imageThe Community Foundation of St. Clair County has awarded a $50,000 grant from its City of Port Huron Fund for small business incentives in downtown Port Huron. The grant funds will be made available through the Community Resource Center, which opened in 2005 and is an affiliate company of the Community Foundation.

Up until this time the Community Resource Center has focused on improving the capacity of nonprofit organizations through workshops and training programs. The funding through the City of Port Huron endowment fund will allow the Resource Center to expand its services.

“Moving the Resource Center into small business support has been in the works for the last few years,” said Chuck Kelly, Chairman of the Community Foundation. “We’ve already awarded grants for small business support in St. Clair and Marine City, and now with some of the recent positive developments taking place in Port Huron, like the new lofts and the opening of the Vintage Tavern, we thought this was an appropriate time to provide some additional financing.”

Applications for financial assistance for this new funding program will have to come via referrals from banks and lending institutions, or organizations like the Port Huron Downtown Development Authority, Mainstreet or the Economic Development Alliance.

“We expect that this $50,000 will be used as funds of last resort,” said Kelly. “And we’ll consider requests on a case-by-case basis.” Mr. Kelly added that financial assistance from this fund could be in the form of low interest or zero interest loans, or loans that become forgivable based on performance and incentives over time. Potential applicants must have already exhausted traditional funding resources, and have complete business plans and budgets.

This new funding program will be overseen by a committee of the Resource Center, including Marsh Campbell, president & CEO of Citizens First Savings Bank. According to Campbell, “These financial incentives will focus on attracting businesses in niche retail, restaurants and entertainment. We intend to focus on storefronts that will attract foot traffic, shopping and nightlife.”

Mr. Campbell added that the boundaries for this incentive program will match those of the Port Huron DDA, which is essentially all of downtown. However, he added that a priority and preference will be given to businesses opening in any of the currently vacant storefronts along Huron/Military.

“We think this is just the beginning of a concentrated effort on downtown,” said Campbell. “In the next few weeks we hope to finalize details of additional financial incentives through the support of other partners. Downtown Port Huron clearly needs a more concentrated effort on filling these store fronts with successful businesses and shops.”

The Foundation’s City of Port Huron Fund is a special interest public fund that supports programs, projects and initiatives important to the residents and businesses in Port Huron. It is one of three “community funds” at the Foundation, with the others being the Algonac/Clay Community Fund and the Citizens for St. Clair Fund.

More details and application information »

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