Port City Program Looks To Boost Downtown Businesses

Oswego Downtown Improvement Fund

OSWEGO – The Administrative Services Committee gave a favorable recommendation Monday night to Mayor Billy Barlow’s request for council approval to execute a grant agreement with the state.

“This is $600,000 we set aside to help small businesses downtown, Mayor Barlow said. “There’s an idea out there that the city has grant money. That’s not true. The city doesn’t have grant money. The city does have, all the time, is a small business commercial loan program.”

When the city developed the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, they asked for an allocation from the state for the city to actually have some grant money to administer to downtown Oswego, the mayor said.

The Oswego Downtown Improvement Fund is one of 12 projects from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s $10 Million Downtown Revitalization Initiative the Port City won in July of 2016.

It makes $525,000 available in grant funding to downtown Oswego businesses. An additional $35,000 will be made available for soft cost items such as architectural review and environmental testing and compliance.

“We’ll explain more tomorrow (May 22) at a public information session,” the mayor said.

There will be two sessions to discuss the application process, eligible activities, scoring criteria and other important information to ensure all business owners are aware of the available grant funding, he explained.

One session will be from 5 to 6 p.m. and the other from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Oswego Canal Commons Conference Room at 197 W. First St.

“It’s open to the public,” the mayor added. “You don’t have to own property downtown to attend.”

There are three different types of projects.

One is a façade improvement project (about a $25,000 – $30,000 grant) and requires a 20 percent match.

There will also be four grants for mixed use renovation projects. The city has $240,000 set aside for these projects. It requires a 25 percent match.

And $2,000 to $5,000 grants, about 10 or 15, will be given out. These grants are for businesses that want to dress up the outside of their store or do some outdoor programming, that’s what this type of grant is for, the mayor said, adding that it is a 100 percent grant.

You have to own property in the downtown boundary (a map will be provided at the sessions) and may apply for multiple grants.

“There will be a pre-application process and an application process and some deadlines that I’ll talk about tomorrow,” the mayor said. “I’ll out line some of the criteria and how the applications will be scored.”

Pre-applications will be available at the informational session. General applications will be made available on June 1 at the Oswego Economic Development Office, 44 E. Bridge St.

New York gets the final say.

“They have to sign off on it before we can officially award it,” Barlow said. “The awards could be presented in late August or early September.”