Gurnee already has awarded nearly half its $250,000 small business grant program
The small business grant program launched by the village of Gurnee last month already has attracted 17 qualified applicants requesting nearly half the $250,000 allotted for the program.
The program, approved by village leaders in September, doles out grants of up to $10,000 to qualified businesses for improvements to their facilities. Under the program, the village will fund half the cost of the project, up to $10,000.
Since the window for businesses to apply opened Nov. 1, seven restaurants, nine retail stores and one amusement center have sought funding, said Jodi Luka, a village management analyst.
Luka said the applicants requested $124,538 in all, nearly half the $250,000 of the program's current funding cap. She said the 17 applicants have invested or plan to invest a total of $984,902.85 in improvement projects.
Primo Restaurant, 720 Milwaukee Ave., completed a $99,700 patio project and was awarded a $10,000 grant. Riverside Cafe, 401 N. Riverside Drive, completed a $17,345 project on the cafe's interior and was awarded an $8,672.50 grant, according to village documents.
In some cases, only some parts of an improvement project qualified for grants. Glomore Cosmetics and Spa, 505 N. Riverside Drive, completed a $24,907 interior project and received a grant of $4,100. Luka said that project included furnishings, fixtures and equipment which do not qualify for the grant money.
Samantha Carlson, co-owner of Top Shelf Ice Arena at Gurnee Mills, said the $10,000 grant it received will help pay for $109,661.55 in improvements done since she bought the rink in February. The work has included hiring a consultant from the United Center to remake their ice rink.
"It needed so much love and so much investment to get it to a place where we could be proud of it," Carlson said, adding that the company worked closely with the village throughout.
Village Administrator Patrick Muetz said another update of the program will be provided in a few months.
The small business grant program is going forward in part because of a sunnier outlook for the village's finances.
Gurnee will receive $4.1 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden in March.