One of the most important ways that a municipality can support it’s small business community is through targeted financial incentives. A recent Potomac Local article touted the expansion of the city of Manassas’ business incentive programs, including Façade Improvement Grants and Landscape Improvement Grants. These incentives will assist with the exterior renovations and landscaping of existing commercial or industrial properties. The new initiatives are designed to encourage business owners to reinvest in properties throughout the City and serve as a redevelopment tool intended to bring new life to older structures. Each pilot program has been allocated $50,000 and property owners must agree to invest $2 for every $1 the City invests.
Incentives like these are used alone or as part of a package to retain and attract business to a Main Street district or generally catalyze projects. They are often in the form of a grant or a zero- to low-interest loan to promote improvements and appropriate design. Seed funding sources can come from Tax Increment Financing (TIF), bank partnerships, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), municipal/county targeted funds, or private loans and grants. Incentives can mean the difference between vacant storefronts and a vibrant downtown neighborhood.
Congratulations to Manassas!