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updated: 1/13/2014 11:44 PM

Mundelein expects big interest in grant program

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Mundelein officials expect a proposed grant program for businesses in the village's downtown area will be popular with local entrepreneurs and property owners.

"We're going to have an overflow of people (applying)," Trustee Dawn Abernathy said during a meeting Monday night. "It's free money."

Publicly unveiled late last year, the mechanics of the program still are being worked out.

The program would be open to the owners of private, for-profit businesses within the downtown district. Most of that wedge-shaped district is south and east of the intersection of routes 45 and 176.

According to a draft version of the plan, approved projects would be eligible to receive a grant of up to 50 percent of an improvement project's cost, up to $25,000.

Qualifying projects would include signs, landscaping, facade improvements, door replacements and ornamental fencing.

Signs are a particular target, because officials are developing new sign rules.

During Monday's discussion, trustees and other village officials toyed with the idea of expanding the program to the entire village to encourage more businesses to upgrade their signs.

"We're using general funds," Abernathy said. "We should be able to (help) any business."

Trustee Holly Kim suggested focusing on the downtown area the first year and expanding the program in subsequent years.

The 2014 budget includes $50,000 for the effort.

An application process hasn't been finalized. Officials haven't determined whether it will be a first-come, first served system or if applicants' projects will be judged.

Trustees will discuss the proposal again at a future committee meeting.

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