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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Mayor Malke Asks UDAG Extend Facade Grant Area

Issue Date: March 3, 2022

The City of Peshtigo's RLF/UDAG Revolving Loan Fund has a 50/50 grant program in place to help businesses located in the main business areas of the city finance exterior improvements to their buildings.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 23, Mayor Cathi Malke asked the UDAG Committee to consider allowing businesses located outside the permitted area be considered for the Facade Grant, and also asked them to consider the possibility of a Hardship Facade Grant program for businesses which cannot meet the 50 percent cost share requirement.

Among those present for the meeting in addition to Malke, who is a non-voting member, were UDAG Committee members Glenn Seyfert, Daniel Seymour, Thomas Maxwell and Alderman Debbie Sievert, Chair; City Attorney David Spangenberg; Clerk Treasurer Tammy Kasal, Alderman Keith Klimek and a member of the press.

Malke said when she first brought up the idea of a Facade Grant program she intended it to help any business in the city, not just those located on the old Hwy. 41 route through the city.

She said visitors and residents drive to all areas of the city, and beautifying it anywhere is good for those everywhere. She noted there is a nice nursing facility behind Badger Park that could use some help with signage and its facade, and was concerned that other businesses not located directly on the main route through the city are being penalized for their location.

Seymour said originally the facade grant program was intended to beautify the downtown area, but he could see Malke's point that people drive all over in the city.

Spangenberg advised that the committee could do whatever it wanted - either change the perameters of the existing facade grant program, or start a new one and shut this one down if they wished.

So far, two facade grants have been made through the program, and there is $34,000 of the $50,000 that was originally allocated from UDAG funds. A third grant has been approved, but the owner hasn't done anything yet.

There were comments that the committee had thought they would get bombarded with grant requests when the cost share grant program was started, but that did not happen. There was discussion of needing to put more money into it if the area was expanded.

Seymour felt they almost would need to put in more money if they go with a hardship grant program that pays the entire cost, and noted when they started the program they had agreed to start it with the $50,000, and see how it went. "I'm in favor of putting more money into it, but I'm not sure about opening it up to everybody."

Malke said she meant to open it to all retail businesses and others that serve the general public, not to manufacturing facilities, apartment buildings, etc.

Spangenberg recommended they stick to the existing program, and if they decided to extend the area they should write a new program and put more money into it.

Malke also was concerned about business owners who need to do exterior improvements, but cannot afford the 50 percent match, and said she would love to do something to help them.

Spangenberg asked if she knew of any communities with programs like that that they could use as a model. She said she had not researched it,. Spangenberg said he is willing to write up the program, but the committee needs to decide who is eligible for the grants, how much they could be for, and what sort of projects are eligible.

He said his office in Marinette is one block off the main business route through the city, but it is not eligible for their facade grant.

"From a legal standpoint, if you target a specific business, that's a problem," Spangenberg cautioned. He asked Malke if she was thinking about a "gifting" program, and Malke felt there still should be some sort of matching investment from the business owner.

He again recommended continuing the existing program unchanged until the money allocated is gone, and starting a new program if other locations are to be included, or if there is to be a hardship grant program.

Consensus of the committee was to continue with the existing program and do some more research before looking at other possible programs or options.

The committee then went into closed executive session to consider two loan applications. After more than an hour of deliberations, they returned to open session and recommended that City Council approve a $200,000 UDAG loan to Tri-Tech Manufacturing LLC or other acceptable entity, with interest at 125 basis points above the 10-year treasury yield for a 10-year term, with several contingencies, including a first position and personal guarantees of owners; and an amendment to the existing loan agreement with Field & Forest Products, Inc. to require the borrower to maintain a 55% or more of the outstanding balance.

Both recommendations were approved by City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, March 1.


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