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WBID offers grant program to ‘restore’ downtown businesses


Dec. 20, 2013
By Carley Dangona

carley@thereminder.com

WESTFIELD – The Westfield Business Improvement District (WBID) has three avenues for local merchants to improve their businesses, including the possibility to enhance storefront facades for free.

The WBID, in collaboration with the city, is offering downtown merchants and building owners the opportunity to receive up to $15,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds through the Restore Westfield program to renovate the exterior of the stores to continue the revitalization efforts in the area. A total of $25,000 is available in funds.

The deadline to apply is Jan. 11, 2014. For more information, log on to www.thedistrictwestfield.com, or contact Patti Conroy at 572-1260 or at patti@thedistrictwestfield.com. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development restrictions apply.

“The goal of the program is to continue with the revitalization of downtown, the beautification of downtown and to enhance the quality of life for those living downtown,” WBID Executive Director Maureen Belliveau said. “[It’s important] to connect the outside message to what business you are doing on the inside.”

She encouraged business and property owners to apply. She said, “If you’re considering doing some renovation and restoration [and] it’s going to help you achieve your goal, why not try?”

Belliveau explained the grant encompassed all aspects of a makeover including siding, windows, signage, lighting and more. She said many inquiries have been received regarding the program.

“[The program] is an exciting resource because there are many other nonprofits looking to utilize these funds,” Belliveau said. This is the second year the Restore Westfield program has been offered.

“People take notice that you are working on your building. It signals that you are open for business,” she added.

The WBID Best Retail Practices Program offers up to $1,900 in grant money for the cost of hiring a professional retail consultant to assess the functionality of a business. Further details regarding the next instance of the program are to come.

Prior to working at WBID, Belliveau participated in its Best Retail Practices program as former co-owner of Optimum Health Therapeutic Massage, now owned by Christine Bissonnette.

“The business is now thriving. It gave us the shot in the arm we needed,” Belliveau commented.

A third program the WBID offers is its annual “Creativity for Business” workshop that teaches business owners to use innovative and different ways to approach promoting their stores. The next workshop is slated to be offered in 2014, with a date yet to be determined.

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