As the pandemic has put a financial strain on many small businesses, exterior cosmetic upgrades are likely low on their list of planned expenditures. For three lucky Bellevue business owners, however, a $1500 grant will be awarded to each to help.
Bona Fide Bellevue, a local growth and revitalization community group, will award funds to businesses to enhance and update their facade. Money can be used for storefront signage, lighting and/or lettered awnings. Linda Carroll, a founding member of Bona Fide Bellevue, said the 10-member board feels the timing is right, with hopes that the pandemic will soon end and this added boost will help rejuvenate the town. “We really want to make an impact on the downtown part of Bellevue,” Linda said. Businesses located on Lincoln Avenue between South Fremont and North Starr, and the first block of side streets within those boundaries, are eligible to apply.
Business owners are encouraged to complete and submit an application outlining their proposed enhancements. Winners will be chosen based on creativity, legibility and how well it integrates with the building’s facade. Condition of the current signage will also factor in. The group hopes to receive entries outlining eye-catching improvements. While a fresh coat of paint doesn’t meet the requirements, Linda explained, using paint within the signage does. If a business already has a newer, updated sign, the grant money could be used for additional signage, such as a unique window decal or lighting.
First impressions count. Updated, unique signage allows a business to differentiate itself from others and to attract customers. According to a study by Fed Ex and the University of Cincinnati, approximately 60% of businesses reap an average increase of 10% in sales when signage is updated. Seven out of 10 customers correlate a storefront’s signage to the quality of the product within.
Funding of the grants will come from Bona Fide Bellevue’s past fundraising efforts. The group was incorporated in 2011 to help put Bellevue on the map. Bona Fide and its subcommittees are the force behind the Bellevue Farmers’ Market, the Bellevue House Tours, the Rhythm & Blues Brewery Crawl and the Community Herb Garden.
Bona Fide Bellevue’s website is a helpful community resource, especially for those interested in volunteering. Linda, whose final term on the Bona Fide board ends in October, is certain her involvement on the board and subsequent committees has enriched her life. “It’s been a way to meet people I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” she said.
“It has been especially rewarding”, she added, “to have an idea and see it come to fruition. The Signage and Facade initiative is just one of them.”
Signage and Facade grant applications can be found at Bonafidebellevue.org. Submission deadline is April 30, 2021, and grants will be awarded by May 31. Upgrades are expected to be in place by fall.