By Amanda Amsel
Prairie Township will be partnering with the Joint Economic Development Zone (JEDZ) to provide sign improvements to area businesses.
At the Prairie Township board meeting on March 19, the trustees approved the transfer of $30,000 to the Prairie Township Community Improvement Corporation to help fund the sign program.
“Area businesses have voiced concerns about their signs being blocked by trees when the new streetscape goes in,” said Tracy Hatmaker, administrator for the township. “Businesses were saying they do not want trees, but what is a streetscape without trees? So we came to a compromise.”
The compromise is that the township would provide $30,000 in grants and the JEDZ will provide the other $30,000. Area businesses can then apply for grants to help pay for new monument style signs that would not be blocked by the tree canopy.
“Businesses can receive a grant to pay for half the cost of the new sign and a loan for the other half,” Hatmaker said. “The loan is interest free for five years.”
Businesses can chose what they want their new sign to look like, the only requirement is that is has to be a monument style sign. If the sign businesses select cost more than $10,000, they are responsible for paying the difference after their grant and loan are subtracted from the cost.
“We think a nice monument sign will cost between $6,000 and $10,000,” Hatmaker said.
Business owners do not have to participate in this program and can chose to continue to use the sign they currently have, however depending on where the sign is located, it could be blocked by the new streetscape tree canopy.
This opportunity is also available for businesses located on West Broad Street from Interstate 270 to Hilliard-Rome Road, as this is where the streetscape will be taking place.
So far, approximately eight businesses have expressed an interest in applying for the program.
“We hope we can get many businesses to participate in this program, so we can get the price down as much as possible,” said Randi Good, assistant administrator for the township. “Our goal is to get the price down and help as many businesses as possible.”
Within the next 60 days all applications have to be returned by area businesses, then the project will go out to bid.
“This is the perfect time to reinvent your business,” Hatmaker said. “There are so many things going on in our community right now, so why not update your business at a time when people are really looking at our community.”