34 businesses in Grand Lake, Granby secure massive grants | SkyHiNews.com

34 businesses in Grand Lake, Granby secure massive grants

By Eli Pace and Amy Golden

The clock is ticking for 34 downtown businesses across Grand Lake and Granby to spend more than $1.7 million of state money on improvement projects.

The work entails new paint jobs, replacing old roofs, installing energy-efficiency doors and windows, redoing heating and cooling systems, and more. However, it all must be complete by June 30, or else the state isn’t buying.

Needless to say, town officials and business owners are expecting a busy spring, as they’re now celebrating news that Grand Lake has been awarded a $958,782 grant and Granby a $757,140 grant for downtown building and business improvements.

“That’s amazing, isn’t it?” Grand Lake Mayor Steve Kudron said of the town’s award. “Grand Lake saw there was an opportunity months ago … We encouraged a laundry list of needs, and so many of our businesses — 23 of them — have been awarded funds.”

The highly competitive grants program received over $21 million dollars in requests from 48 applications statewide, and 13 were green-lighted funding. Considering only $5.7 million was made available for the program covering all of Colorado, the two Grand County municipalities monopolized the pool of money by being approved to spend more than 30% of it.

“We really went big where some of the other communities pinpointed only a couple buildings maybe in there,” Destination Granby Executive Director Lauren Huber told Granby trustees about the large allocation to Grand County. “We really tried to maximize it.”

The Department of Local Affairs is responsible for the Colorado Main Street program and its grants, designed to support local empowerment and rebuild central business districts based on each community’s unique architecture, character and local ownership. The Colorado legislature put up the money for the program.

For its application, Grand Lake enlisted a town-wide effort and lumped two dozen downtown businesses’ needs into a single request. Altogether, DOLA approved funding for 23 of them.

“It’s pretty amazing; I still can’t believe that,” said Mike Tompkins, who was key in helping organize the Grand Lake businesses’ joint application.

He added that with the owners kicking in 20% of the projects’ costs, Grand Lake’s award will actually amount to more than $1.2 million worth of improvements across the downtown area.

“I’m usually an optimist, but I was stunned when it came through that we got almost everything we asked for,” Tompkins said. “It just seemed too good to be true.”

Granby took a similar approach in collaboration with Destination Granby covering 11 businesses in the town’s application. The $757,140 grant will cover 80% of costs, with businesses contributing 10% and the town providing the remaining 10%, equal to $90,135.

Along with exterior improvements, two Granby businesses will be getting HVAC replacements, quite a few will get window upgrades, one will add an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant ramp and two will build back patios.

Grand Lake businesses are also in line for a host of improvements, such as HVAC and new roofs, though the bulk of the town’s business awards are earmarked for more noticeable upgrades, including new doors, windows and fresh coats of paint.

Granby officials said they hope to be good stewards of these funds, proving that these grants are helpful to businesses.

“The goal of this is to show the state that this type of incentive can help communities moving forward,” Granby Town Manager Ted Cherry told the town board on Tuesday.

“We feel as though — if our projects are successful and we can show through the metrics of energy consumption decreases or increases in employees or business — that this would be the type of project that the state would put money toward in the future.”

Granby plans to have a contractor in place to manage the improvements within the month.

Grand Lake is revving to get started too. Tompkins said they started working in conjunction with the business owners and a pair of local contractors to put together a list of jobs they think will be obtainable and line up contractors who can perform the work, even before submitting the application.

Some administrative details remain, including that no state funds can be obligated before a grant contract is fully executed, and the offer remains valid until June 30.

Tompkins acknowledged it’s a tight window, and will require a lot of teamwork to get all the jobs done, but with a focus on projects that won’t be hindered by supply chain problems and an aggressive work schedule, he believes it’s within reach.

And if it all gets done, there will be a lot of improvements that people can and can’t see across Grand Lake.

“It’s going to look good,” Tompkins said. “Of course, I always think Grand Lake looks good, but it’s going to look better than it does.”

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