Town of Peace River administration asked town council to temporarily relax rules for its Business Grant Program at its Oct. 10 council meeting.
“The Business Grant Program came into effect in July 2023 with the first and second application deadlines of July 25 and Sept. 5,” explains Mayor Elaine Manzer.
“These deadlines were problematic in the timelines for businesses to satisfy several application criteria including that July was already partway through the construction season.”
Manzer says six applications were received. Three applications given initial grant approval, subject to conditions. Only $6,826.52 was awarded so far from $50,000 of allocated dollars.
“Council did choose to grant the temporary relaxation of several criteria for applications already submitted or submitted in the final 2023 intake period,” Manzer says.
“Some of the one-time temporary relaxations were for criteria involving multiple quotes, not meeting the minimum threshold of $2,500 and applying for the grant after beginning their projects,” she adds.
The economic development committee had discussed introducing the grant to encourage investment in buildings and property, as well as to develop tourism-based products and services. They then asked town council to implement a policy.
“By the time council reviewed the policy, proposed amendments and further consideration by the economic develop- ment committee, it was passed in June of 2023,” says Manzer.
“So, the timelines for applications were short this year. The next application deadline is Nov. 27.”
Council will temporarily allow some consideration for applications that were unable to provide multiple quotes, that did not meet the minimum project threshold of $2,500, and projects that applied for the grant after the beginning of their project.
“Council wishes to support businesses who might need a bit of extra help to implement a change in their business program or building to help its attractiveness or expand its customer base,” explains Manzer.
“The community will continue to have choices as customers buying local services or products from local businesses. The grants range from $2,500 to $25,000,” she adds.
The Business Grand Program is subject to annual budget decisions, and will be discussed this fall to see if it will be included in the 2024 budget.
“Some local businesses can derive a large benefit from some changes to their premises or programs and projects,” says Manzer, explaining why the program is deemed so important to council.
“Increasing viability of businesses is helpful.”