Orange Poppy, one of several businesses that have improved their storefront with the help of Soldotna’s Storefront Improvement Program, is photographed Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. The improvement program awards grants to local businesses wanting to beautify their building’s exterior. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Orange Poppy, one of several businesses that have improved their storefront with the help of Soldotna’s Storefront Improvement Program, is photographed Wednesday, May 29, 2019, in Soldotna, Alaska. The improvement program awards grants to local businesses wanting to beautify their building’s exterior. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna accepting storefront grant applications

Applications are due March 5

The City of Soldotna is now accepting applications for two grant programs aimed at helping businesses improve their storefronts.

In addition to its traditional storefront improvement program, the city is also offering a virtual storefront program, which was specifically developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help Soldotna’s small businesses establish and build their online presence.

“It is the goal of this program to expand the visibility of and access to local businesses to increase their sales and customer contacts; and to increase the stability of our local economy and provide a wider marketplace for local goods and services,” the program guidelines read.

According to the virtual storefront program guidelines, the grant amount available to each business is 75% of the cost of approved work with a maximum city contribution of $1,000. Businesses without a physical storefront in Soldotna are not eligible to participate in the program. Participants are also required to obtain at least one bid for each part of the proposed project that may require separate contracts.

The city’s award-winning traditional storefront improvement program, which was developed in 2012, reimburses up to 50% of the cost of eligible storefront improvements to Soldotna businesses, or up to $7,500.

“By partnering with local business owners and lessees to share the cost of beautifying the exterior of a business, the program aims to boost traffic, increase property values, and improve the overall look and vitality of our city’s commercial districts,” the program guidelines say.

Work eligible for the program includes the rehabilitation of building facades visible to the street such as storefronts, signs, windows and exterior lighting, among others. Work not eligible for the program includes non-permanent improvements and items like roofs or structural foundations, among other things. Like the virtual storefront program, applicants must obtain a bid for each type of work being done.

According to the city’s website, the program has awarded more than $90,000 in grant funds and resulted in over $400,000 in private investment.

The city accepts applications three times per year, with an upcoming deadline of March 5. Applications can be turned in at Soldotna City Hall. More information about both grant programs, including a list of previous recipients with a before and after photo gallery, can be found on the City of Soldotna’s website at soldotna.org.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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