Tuesday December 11, 2012

DOVER -- A series of meetings will begin tonight that address available funding for businesses in town.

"We’re going to let people know who don’t know about it or have questions," said Dover Economic Development Specialist Ken Black.

The Do-It Marketing initiative was given the go-ahead by the Selectboard last month.

The first meeting -- "Dover Opportunity for Investment in the Town" -- will introduce the Do-It program in a public forum at the Dover town offices and will start at 6 p.m.

"It needs to start somewhere," Black said of this pilot program at the Selectboard meeting on Nov. 20.

Do-It Marketing is a revitalization program that is scheduled to start on Jan. 1, 2013. That is when businesses can start filling out applications to find out if they are eligible.

Funding will come from a $25,000 budget for the fiscal year. Its goal is to assist businesses with costs related to making their stores more visible to the public and tourists.

This may include painting or restoring signs, but is not limited to that. On the website, doververmont.com/marketing, it is described as having the intention to "assist business owners or lessees with the cost of improving the exterior aesthetics of their property with projects related to their business." It also mentions that "projects with a larger scope are preferred to those with a smaller scope."

Funding will only be available to "brick-and-mortar" stores and businesses that are on "well-traveled roads" such as Handle Road or Route 100. A business can qualify for one grant in "a given fiscal year." Grants will be given as rebates for materials and labor. A project must be between $500 and $2,500.

The program has come under scrutiny by business owners who operate out of their homes. Some have argued that home business owners pay taxes just like any other business in town. Others thought that there wasn’t enough money in the budget to make the program worthwhile.

Tonight’s meeting will address what the program is, how it will work and the qualifications for applications. Business owners will get the chance to apply for the program in January.

"We expect a good turnout," said Linda Anelli, economic development assistant specialist. "We are hopeful that if people have questions or issues that they will all be discussed or dealt with."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com.