10/12/08 — DGDC board OKs incentive program for new businesses

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DGDC board OKs incentive program for new businesses

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 12, 2008 2:00 AM

Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. Board of Directors has voted to create an incentive program and to continue its aesthetic effort to attract more new business to the city.

The board held its annual retreat Thursday and Friday in Beaufort.

The DGDC Economic Restructuring Committee has been working on the incentive program for months, which would give new businesses or businesses that were to relocate to the area up to $400 a month for one year in grant money toward advertising, utilities, rent and insurance. To be eligible for the grant, businesses must be for-profit, must locate within the Municipal Service District area and must complete a business plan similar or identical to that provided by the Small Business Center at Wayne Community College prior to submitting the application.

Businesses must also provide a personal financial statement or proof of financing, must adhere to all city codes, historic district guidelines, downtown design standards and sign regulations and must have a business inspection, fire inspection, building permit, sign permit and a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic District Commission.

Grants awards during the current fiscal year will focus on providing the downtown area with the types of businesses that city and county residents deemed necessary in the DGDC's survey, such as a restaurant with outdoor seating, grocery store, antique shop and specialty store.

The funds will serve as a reimbursement for eligible expenses, and each month, grant awardees will be required to submit a list of money spent for the business in that period of time.

Grants will be awarded on a funds-available basis. Funds for the grant will come from the city's general fund and municipal service district tax funds. Grant applications will be reviewed on a quarterly basis, and the deadlines for each cycle are Dec. 1, March 1, June 1 and Sept. 1.

The board's design committee decided to work on two new projects this year.

The first is to help establish an identity for the downtown area by establishing districts.

Committee chairman Stephanie Ross said that she could see several districts in the future, including a restaurant district and law or court district as well as the already mapped out historic district. The committee will be working on a study in-house to find signs that show the direction of those districts as well as other downtown attractions.

"This would be a great way to lead people downtown from the highways," Mrs. Ross said. "We are trying to give it some visual appearance. I think it makes it easier to understand where you are and helps you identify where things are."

The next steps for the wayfinding sign project -- signs that show specific districts or attractions instead of showing road numbers -- would be to review sign plans, identify locations to place the signs, create identification areas and names, create sign system design, submit a plan to the city and state for approval and to implement that plan.

The members will also wait to hear the results from the branding study currently under way for the city through the Goldsboro-Wayne Travel and Tourism office before developing the signage plan.

The other new project that the design committee will work is improving Cornerstone Commons, the area formerly known as Pedestrian Plaza.

The plan for the commons is to have a canopy area over the stage as well as a sign stating the new name. The plaza will also recognize former Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Cornerstone Award winners by placing plaques in the brick area of the commons and include more lighting fixtures.

The group will hold its monthly board meeting Wednesday at noon.