Antioch hopes to spark reinvestment with business grant program
Antioch has added another incentive to its economic development tool box by creating a grant program to help businesses renovate and upgrade their buildings.
Unlike the village's facade improvement program, which focuses on the downtown area, these business incentive grants of up to $20,000 have a broader target.
"Some of our corridors need assistance," said Michael Garrigan, the village's community development director. "It's all about new investment and raising property values."
Increasing the value of businesses in town will allow the village to improve services without having to increase residential property taxes, according to the resolution creating the program.
Like other communities, Antioch is scrambling to attract new development, Garrigan said. But retaining and improving existing businesses is "especially important," he added.
The grant program provides retail, industrial, service or any business in the village up to 50% of the cost, to a maximum grant of $20,000, for eligible exterior or interior projects. Grants will be drawn from a village-provided pool of $160,000 but that can be adjusted depending on the level of interest.
Common maintenance, such as a new HVAC system or roof, or repairs to electrical or plumbing systems, parking lots, or existing windows or doors, for example, are not eligible.
Instead, more substantial exterior work, such as restoration, painting, replacing windows, redesigning an entry, creating a new roof line, or installing decorative lighting, landscaping, canopies or awnings would be allowed.
The grant program is not intended to replace the downtown facade program, and owners who receive funds from that program aren't eligible.
"You can't double dip," Garrigan said.
The grant guidelines are broader for interior work but the project must create additional revenue for the village. Restaurants, retail, auto, truck, boat or RV sales, bakeries, movie theaters, or a brewery or distillery with dining, for example, are on that list.
Garrigan said Antioch's program is modeled after one in Mundelein that "sounds like it has worked quite well there."
Mundelein officials say $444,089 has been awarded for 43 projects representing total improvements of more than $2.6 million since the program begin in April 2014.
Antioch's grant program has a safeguard in that it requires businesses to reimburse the village on a sliding scale if it does not stay open five years. For example, a business that closes after a year has to repay 80% of the grant.
"It does protect the taxpayer and has a payback provision," Garrigan said.
The grant program was approved at a board meeting Aug. 12. The next item of business at that meeting was a $20,000 grant to Raymond Chevrolet, which has operated for decades at 118 Route 173.
Raymond says it will use the grant to modernize the exterior of its body shop at 1027 Anita Ave. The village approval says the project is justified as the business provides sales and property taxes, as well as jobs.
The business incentive grant program is one of a series of economic development tools used by the village. Those include special financing districts, property tax abatements, the facade program and development grants.
The village on Wednesday will consider establishing a second business district, in which a higher sales tax is imposed and the proceeds are targeted for reinvestment in the area.
In April, the village agreed to rebate up to $3.5 million in property taxes over 10 years to help Fischer Paper Products Inc., relocate and build a bigger facility at the Antioch Corporate Center.
And in April 2018, village officials agreed to provide Handi-foil Corporation, a privately-owned manufacturer of aluminum products, with up to $15 million in tax increment financing funds for an $82 million facility in Antioch Corporate Center.