Tonawanda News — Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz was in the City of Tonawanda Monday to trumpet a grant program responsible for upgrades to the exteriors of several Main Street businesses.
The Erie County Commercial Center Improvement Program sent hundreds of thousands of dollars though federally funded matching grants to improve the facades of 10 businesses along Main Street as well as some interior projects.
Windows, signs, lighting, masonry work and replaced awnings were put in place at the businesses in accordance with New York state historic preservation guidelines.
The businesses, which are located between Niagara and Seymour streets, received up to $10,000 after applying for the Community Development Block grants, though owners of the establishments had to contribute an equal amount.
The American Legion Post #264, PJ Hooligan’s restaurant, Hair After/Sturner Studio, Sweet Briar Antiques, Complete Homecare Inc., Tonawanda Wine & Liquor, Dome Stadium, Medical Claims Inc. and Smoke On The Water were all beneficiaries.
Poloncarz said the program is an effective way for the county to reinvigorate local business districts through façade improvements and renovations, drawing new attention and business to local merchants.
“Using federal matching dollars, this grant helps to restore commercial districts, which are often the heart of our various cities, towns and villages,” he said. “It shows the pride we have in local business, the support that we can offer to business owners who choose to partake in the program and our commitment to strengthening our core business districts.”
Pilozzi called it a “major investment in our downtown business district” and a win-win for the city. Seven businesses originally signed up for the federal funds in 2009 after the city sent out letters asking for participants.
“In addition to improving the facades of these businesses, it shows the importance of a partnership between government and private enterprise,” he said.
The Erie County Commercial Center Improvement Program began in 2004 and has been active in the Villages of Springville and Gowanda, as well as the hamlets of Holland and Eden. A total of 35 businesses have been assisted through the program, which is currently active in the Village of Lancaster. Clinton Brown Associates is the current architectural consultant for the program.
“The improvements made to our building through the Erie County Commercial Center Improvement Program were extremely beneficial to our business,” said Chris Cook, owner of Hair Do’ers Salon on Main Street, where work included replacement of all storefront glass, windows and an awning.